In the March/April issue of the University of Chicago magazine, an article announced that the University decided not to divest from companies connected to the genocide in Darfur. I wrote a response and it was published in the May/June issue:
Advocacy organizations have done a commendable job of educating the public about this ongoing genocide. While this increased awareness represents progress, knowledge without action is worthless. I commend the University on the creation of a fund to underwrite faculty and student work (a truly creative and worthwhile idea), but it is no replacement for divestment (or any other proactive measures). The University is correct in claiming that its antidivestment decision is not a sign of neutrality; inaction in the face of clear injustice given the opportunity to act is complicity, not neutrality.
While we can hope that the $200,000 fund will indeed advance human rights, I challenge the false choice between providing an “umbrella of open, free inquiry” and the University’s moral duty to divest. These options are not mutually exclusive. Budgets are moral documents, and within them are the keys to our priorities. We should not pretend that prizing open inquiry absolves us of the moral duty to examine our possible complicity with injustice.
Bob Francis is the organizing and policy assistant for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, and earned his masters degree in social science from the University of Chicago in 2006.