Investment Transparency Good for the Right Too

by Stephen Beale on March 15, 2010

The Open the Books Coalition, a student organization, held a protest earlier this month, demanding that Brown University release a list of all the companies its invested in. The coalition is comprised of the usual suspects—Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Labor Alliance, and Students for Justice in Palestine—and, as those names suggest, the students are concerned that Brown might be investing in companies that profit off the ‘the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories’ and are involved  ‘bad labor practices.’ Not surprisingly, the last of the three organizations, is calling for Brown to divest from any companies involved in the occupation of Palestine, in an all-too-eager effort to re-enact the South African divestment campaigns of the 1980s. But transparency is a conservative cause as well. For example, there are those on the right who would call for divestment from companies that profit for Islamic terrorism—certainly lending much credence to claims that universities are bastions of anti-Americanism. So our message to the Open the Books Coalition is, be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

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otb March 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm


I’m part of the Open the Books Coalition, and you’re right that the coalition falls on the left end of the spectrum. But I personally don’t support increased transparency and democracy in university governance (only) because I think they will serve lefty goals on issues like labor rights. I endorse those ideas because I think students having more knowledge and influence in university affairs is good in and of itself. (I speak only for myself, of course, not the coalition as a whole.) If students/alums on the right also want those goals, if with a different agenda in mind, then I would encourage them to support the open endowment campaign. Once Brown has an open endowment, we can debate about the merits of its various investments–until then, students across the political spectrum can unite around a common interest in transparency and democracy.

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