Moving Forward: Brown Divest Speaks Out

Previously, Bluestockings interviewed Ruby Goldberg, a member of the Brown Divest Coal Campaign, before the Corporation released its decision to not divest from coal. After the past week of intense emotions that permeated the campus with such prevalence, Bluestockings decided to do a follow-up interview with Ruby, to see where the movement stands in the unprecedented, unending concern of global climate change.

Ragna: Why did you choose to get involved with the Brown Divest Coal Campaign?

Ruby: I very quickly realized that Brown Divest Coal not only had a fantastic and very well-thought-out mission, but that everyone involved in the campaign was incredibly dedicated and determined to make a difference to the environment both at a campus and national level. 

Ragna: How are you feeling about the Corporation’s decision not to divest?

Ruby: I was incredibly disappointed at the Corporation’s decision. I feel that in making this decision, they decided to maintain the status quo and support the interests of coal companies, over standing up for Brown’s values and interests in the future. The Corporation had the opportunity to simultaneously stand up for Brown’s core values and make it a national leader in a very important movement, all without any possible risk to the university, and they chose not to.

Ragna: What does Brown Divest Coal plan to do now?

Ruby: We will continue to speak up and make our voices heard. We believe very strongly that this is the right decision for our university, and the massive outpouring of support we received following the vote indicates that we will not be alone in our continued efforts.

Ragna: How do you think we can pressure the University to divest sometime in the future?

Ruby: I think the most important method we can use is to raise our voices as students and leverage our power to not only change the vote, but change the way these decisions are made, so that all of the students who put so much time and money into this University can influence such crucial decisions on how the university is run.

Ragna: What are your thoughts on Christina Paxson’s Letter to the Community?

Ruby: I found many of the arguments logically flawed, overly simplistic, or simply misleading. I think it was unreasonable to of her to expect that the critical analysis student learn and practice in classes would not carry over while they were reading this letter and allow them to see the weakness of her arguments.

Ragna: What can students do to contribute to the organizing behind Brown Divest, either as a group or on an individual level?

Ruby: At the core, what both individuals and groups can do to contribute is to simply show their support. Individuals can attend events or rallies that we hold, and simply help keep the conversation alive on campus. Groups can either endorse the specific goals of our campaign, or endorse the broader cause of raising student voice and influence on campus. If anyone, either groups or individuals, are interested in getting more involved, or simply finding out what our campaign is about, you are welcome to come to our weekly meetings, or contact us through our Facebook page.

Ragna: Do you think Paxson’s stances on divestment and Ray Kelley are indicative of a “new Brown?”

Ruby: I think the administration’s response to both events indicates a lack of responsiveness to student concerns and opinions about how Brown carries itself as an institution. I do not think this will be the tone of a new Brown, because students come here not only for a world-class education, but to be members of a community that leads by example and is unafraid to fight for what they believe in. I am fully confident that students will stand up for their right to influence the decisions of the university, so that Brown continues to be a place where students can advocate for the causes they believe in, and have those opinions be seriously considered by the university.

Ragna: How can we effectively demand transparency and accountability from the Corporation?

Ruby: I think the first step is to put enough pressure on them that they will agree to listen to our demands. In my opinion, the most effective way to do this will be to show a continual and strong support from both students and alumni, as well as to draw continued media attention to the issue. The second step is to then demand concrete changes that will create a structure for both current and future students to hold the corporation accountable for their decisions.

Ragna: Do you think they’ll listen?

Ruby: I believe that if enough students express how strongly they believe in this cause, the Corporation will be forced to listen. In the end, Brown is a university whose mission is to “serve the community, the nation, and the world… through a partnership of students and teachers,” and if the structure of the Corporation is no longer allowing the university is no longer being operated as such, that structure will be forced to change. That will not happen, however, without persistence, dedication, and drive from everyone who is a part of this community in any way.

Sign the petition and like the BDCC Facebook page!

Interview with Rudy Golberg

Interview conducted by Ragna Rök Jóns

All Images via Google Images

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