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March 23, 2016

The Honorable Tim W. Brown


77 South High Street
Ohio House of Representatives, 13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Representative Brown:
We write in response to your letter to the Ohio State University Undergraduate Student Government
(USG) expressing disapproval of a divestment resolution currently pending before the USG general
assembly. As organizations representing a broad and diverse constituency of Ohio State students, we are
dismayed and profoundly disappointed that you would deem it appropriate to meddle in deliberations
regarding an internal University matter.
As is plainly evident from your letter, you have neither read the text of Resolution 48-R-43, nor taken the
time to speak with its proponents to understand their intentions. So, please allow us to explain. Resolution
48-R-43, A Resolution to Support the Withdrawal of OSUs Investments in Corporations Complicit in
Human Rights Violations, calls for the divestment of University funds from British security firm G4S,
Caterpillar Inc., and global information technology company Hewlett-Packard. These corporations have a
well-documented track record of aiding and abetting human rights abuses in Israel and the Occupied
Palestinian Territories by, for example, supplying bulldozers used to illegally demolish Palestinian
homes; maintaining the technical capabilities of checkpoints that limit Palestinians freedom of movement
and access to medical care and other critical social services; and providing the infrastructure and services
to support the global prison industrial complex, respectively.
The resolution does not, as your letter contends, encourage University officials to boycott, divest, and
sanction against the nation of Israel. Rather, it aims to hold OSU accountable for the implications of its
business decisions and ensure that its financial investments are not implicated in human rights abuses
abroad.
Additionally, House Bill 476, which you mention in your letter, has not yet passed and therefore has no
binding legal weight. Moreover, even if House Bill 476 were to become law:
1. It would not prohibit the USG from passing a divestment resolution;
2. It would not even affect Ohio State if the University actually divested; and
3. It would be unconstitutional and could be challenged in court.

Unwarranted and inaccurate calls to reject divestment from public officials in positions such as yours do a
disservice to students who are attempting to reach their own informed conclusions about divestment.
They serve to stifle student speech by irrevocably altering the terms of a conversation that should be left
to OSU students.
Our campaign is based on the understanding that, as Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated, An
injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We view divestment as an important step in not only
advocating for justice for Palestinians but also creating a more just campus community. As long as our
university is complicit in human rights violations abroad, it cannot be truly inclusive and safe for all
students. For that reason, we work alongside other student organizations to challenge all forms of
oppression and bigotry that exist on campus.
In urging USG representatives to reject divestment, you have subverted the student democratic process
and abdicated your responsibility to serve as representatives to all your constituents. We urge you to
respect the sovereignty of the USG and to cease your unprecedented infringement of student speech and
association on our campus.
Sincerely,
#OSUDivest1
CC:

Member of the Ohio State University


Undergraduate Student Government

#OSUDivest is endorsed by the following OSU student organizations: African Youth League, Arab Student Union,
Bangladesh Student Association, Buckeye Bhangra, Buckeye Fusion, OSU Coalition for Black Lives, The
Committee for Justice in Palestine, FemUNITY, Indian American Association, International Socialist Organization Columbus Branch, Iranian Cultural Association, Model African Union, Muslim Students Association, Pakistani
American Students Association, Peace Corps Club, Project: Educate XX, Say Hi, SHADES, Somali Students
Association, Syrian Student Union, Still We Rise, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Urdu Club. The
following community organizations have also endorsed #OSUDivest: Jewish Voice for Peace - Central Ohio, and
Franklin County Green Party Central Committee.