Brown U caves to anti-Israel protesters, agrees to deal on divestment in exchange for encampment closure

Brown University on Tuesday caved to anti-Israel protesters on its Ivy League campus by hammering out an agreement that will see the encampment end there.

Demonstrators said they would shut down their encampment in exchange for administrators taking a vote in October on a proposal to divest from Israel. The compromise appears to mark the first time a U.S. college has agreed to vote on divestment in the wake of the protests, and it marks a major victory for the agitators there. 

Protesters have held a tent encampment on the Brown campus since April 24 and, like similar protests sweeping the country, they have called for their university to disclose and divest their investments in companies and organizations linked to Israel, as well as demanding a ceasefire in the ongoing war.


Anti-Israel protesters at Brown University

Protesters rally at Brown University earlier this week. ( Joseph Prezioso/AFP)

The prestigious Rhode Island university has agreed to let five students meet with five members of Brown’s corporate board in May so the agitators can argue for Brown to divest from such companies.

Paxson will also ask an advisory committee on resources to provide a recommendation on the matter of divestment by Sept. 30 which will be brought to the board for a vote at its October 2024 meeting. 

“The devastation and loss of life in the Middle East has prompted many to call for meaningful change, while also raising real issues about how best to accomplish this,” Brown wrote.

“Brown has always prided itself on resolving differences through dialog, debate and listening to each other. I cannot condone the encampment, which was in violation of university policies.”

Anti-Israel activists on campus celebrated news of the deal and declared it a win for their cause. It will likely embolden protesters on other campuses to believe that they could potentially reach similar deals.  

“VICTORY!! BROWN COMMITS TO DIVESTMENT VOTE!” the Brown Divest Coalition, the group behind the protest, wrote on X, after clinching the deal.  

Students at Brown University celebrate their deal on divestment

Euphoric protesters at Brown University celebrate their deal on divestment. ( Joseph Prezioso / AFP)

“Brown administration has conceded to students’ demand that the Corporation vote on divestment after years of tireless pressure from the student body, 61 student arrests, an eight day hunger strike and seven days of encampment.”

The group said its triumph was inspired by similar encampments that have popped up throughout the country.


“We will continue to pressure Brown to ensure we divest in October and support encampments across the country,” the group wrote. 

The deal brings an end to the encampment and demonstrators have agreed to refrain from further actions that would violate Brown’s conduct code through the end of the academic year, which includes Commencement and Reunion Weekend, Paxson said. 

She also said that disciplinary hearings would still be carried out for those who established tents and took part in other activities that violated Brown’s policies.

Student protesters gather in protest inside their encampment on the Columbia University campus

Encampments have sprung up on campuses throughout the country. Student protesters pictured inside their encampment on the Columbia University campus, on April 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

University leaders, however, agreed that ending the encampment would be “viewed favorably in disciplinary proceedings. Reports of bias, harassment or discrimination received during the encampment will also continue to be investigated, Paxson said. 

The protests at Brown come after an incident in November where Paxson was caught omitting references to Jewish students on campus in a speech after she was heckled by pro-Palestinian activists.

The crowd shouted her down, chanting “Brown divest!” referring to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, forcing her to eventually leave the podium. 

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