April 18, 2024

EDITORIAL | The Sun’s Editorial Board Endorses Divestment

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This week, a Student Assembly mired in controversy has finally turned itself over to the people, allowing students to vote on the fate of Cornell’s endowment. The referendum, to be held April 18-19, asks two questions: whether Cornell should call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and whether Cornell should divest from ten companies reportedly involved in arming the Israeli military. The Sun wholeheartedly endorses the pro-side of both questions and joins the call for Cornell University to divest from arms manufacturers directly involved in what the International Court of Justice has called a “plausible” genocide.

Cornell should in no way support a war that has been waged with callous disregard for civilian lives. The death toll in Gaza has eclipsed 30,000, including more than 12,000 children; both United Nations and European Union officials have warned of an imminent, manufactured famine; and earlier this month, the Israeli military directly undermined aid efforts by killing seven World Central Kitchen workers in a targeted airstrike. If profiting from atrocity isn’t grounds for divestment, then what is? 

Voting for divestment from arms manufacturers and calling for an immediate, lasting ceasefire does not diminish the horrifying events of Oct. 7, 2023, in which Hamas killed roughly 1,200 Israelis and took more than 240 hostage.

There’s nothing new in proposing divestment on moral grounds. Throughout the 1980s, students at Cornell participated in a national movement calling on universities to divest from holdings in apartheid South Africa, leading to a policy of partial divestment. In 2006, the Board of Trustees divested from oil companies operating in Sudan in light of the ongoing Darfur genocide. Just four years ago, Cornell acquiesced to student protests for effective divestment from fossil fuel companies, taking a stance against continued complicity in climate degradation. The University even has an explicit policy endorsing divestment as a response to “morally reprehensible” actions — including genocide. Cutting ties with weapons manufacturers wouldn’t be a radical departure from University policy but instead would uphold  principles that the University has for decades applied to its financial dealings. 

Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the current administration doesn’t seem to see Cornell’s mission as anything other than that of a profit-making machine. As student and faculty protests have expanded, President Martha Pollack and the administration have responded by cracking down and condemning when they should really be engaging and listening. Instead of considering the views of the student body, staff and faculty — the very people who breathe life into the Cornell community — Pollack has consistently deferred to conservative donors and congressional crooks.. 

By continuing its investment in arms manufacturers, Cornell not only contributes to humanitarian catastrophe but erodes its own legitimacy. It’s time for Cornell to lead the way, call for a ceasefire and pull our money out of investments in potential war crimes. That starts with this week’s referendum, and it starts with the student body making its voice heard. 

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to contextualize The Sun’s position.

The Cornell Daily Sun’s Editorial Board is a collaborative team composed of the Editor in Chief, Associate Editor and Opinion Editor. The Editorial Board’s opinions are informed by expertise, research and debate to represent The Sun’s long-standing values. The Sun’s editorials are independent of its news coverage, other columnists and advertisers.

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