Appleton SDS continues to urge Lawrentians to pledge support for Palestine through divestment campaign

The Appleton chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) has been encouraging Lawrentians to join their campaign, titled “Divest from Death,” which urges students to put pressure on Lawrence administration to “[d]ivest from [companies funding] Palestinian Genocide […] [and] Ecological Destruction.”  This campaign is part of a longer string of events, including Fall Term’s walkout, at which some Lawrence students have been voicing their support for Palestine.   

According to Appleton SDS representative of the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine junior Patrick Sweeney, administration has not been receptive to the concerns the organization and other Lawrentians have been raising since Fall Term.  

“We had meetings with [administration] and met [administration] at public events last term, being patronized and dismissed at every turn,” Sweeney claimed. “Earlier this term, we met with President [Laurie] Carter and cabinet members to discuss investment practices on this campus […] their answers were insufficient; we found no code of ethics and no transparency. This is unacceptable when a well-documented genocide unfolds that sees U.S. tax dollars funding and U.S. companies profiting.” 

A Lawrence-based band performs at the 
Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund benefit concert. Photo by Alana Melvin.

SDS claims that the Lawrence community needs transparency regarding university spending and that Lawrence needs to commit to both targeted divestment — the act of divesting from specific corporations due to an inciting purpose — and comprehensive divestment, the complete divestment of all companies in a certain industry.  

 “This is a time of U.S.-funded genocide and ecological disaster,” SDS’ pamphlet claims. “We bear full witness to the well-documented, U.S.-funded slaughter of over 35,000 Palestinians while hundreds of thousands more starve. A lack of action from our administration is immoral and shameful.” 

The packet also stated that the removal of the endowed funds “will take Lawrence’s commitment to sustainability from performative to legitimate.”  

As of Feb. 27, the campaign has been endorsed by four student organizations and over 200 community members.  

According to Sweeney, Divest from Death, which has been running from the beginning of Winter Term, has received no acknowledgement from the Lawrence University administration. However, he believes that as the campaign becomes more visible to Lawrence, their cries will become known.  

“We don’t expect [a response] until we begin to apply pressure,” Sweeney said. “The response we want is recognition of this genocide and the necessity for Lawrence to end any potential complicity by adhering to the demands of our divestment campaign.” 

Aside from Divest from Death, Lawrence students have been raising awareness for Palestine in other ways. On Saturday, Feb. 17, a benefit concert for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) was held in Warch Campus Center’s Mead Witter Room.

“Punk music has always been something that has been influential, particularly the anti-war movement,” featured band GÜCH’s guitarist senior Anders Hanhan stated. “I think it’s really important when people are putting something together to benefit people who really need it, and people who have been oppressed by decades of occupation […] tying music and arts and activism together is something that’s really effective at both creating community and building awareness.”  

While SDS was not affiliated with the concert, the information table held flyers of their campaign and the petition to call for divesting.  

In the end, Sweeney hopes that Divest from Death will succeed in reaching administration and change towards their goal of divestment will begin to occur.  

 “There’s no neutrality in genocide,” Sweeney declared. “There is complicity and there is action against it. What [SDS is] wishing for is a meeting; we want to discuss; we want to be heard out. We don’t want to be deflected. We don’t want them to have issues with our tone. We want divestment. We’re not wishing — we’re demanding.”