MSA’s divestment is the right decision

I believe the Minnesota Student Association’s success in passing a version of the divestment resolution is a resounding victory for freedom of speech and a slap at the hands of powers that attempted to interfere and silence dissent. 
 
 
University President Eric Kaler and more than 80 state legislators committed a major abuse of their powers and authority when in March they attempted to prevent public dialogue and civil debate over a human rights divestment resolution brought forward by members of Students for Justice in Palestine and human rights advocates.
 
 
I think that in these instances of intervention, we are able to peer into the very heart of the debate about freedom of speech on campus. The ongoing debate about the freedom of speech on campus has consistently had its boundaries carefully defined by those in power, whose very effort to establish rules and limits on speech inherently detracts from the right of freedom of speech. 
 
 
Kaler has routinely wielded his idea of freedom of speech as a method of silencing dissent and attempting to limit the rights of students and members of the community on campus. His efforts have habitually elevated the voices of some at the expense of others, alienating marginal and dissenting voices. 
 
 
The fundamental right to freedom of speech is explicitly to protect those dissenting and minority voices that the president and our legislators attempted to silence in March. 
 
 
As for the resolution itself, far from adopting an encouraging debate and democratic practices, our legislators and University president have taken a strong, clear position. It is one that not only stifles freedom of speech but also settles them in a comfortable position next to the power brokers who hold a monopoly over the debate.
 
 
Perhaps we should not be surprised by their position, one tied to the stream of more than $120 billion in aid to Israel since 1948. This position maintains a status quo in United States foreign relations, preserving and protecting a special relationship between two national powers, especially their militaries.
 
 
It’s a status quo that has systematically denied basic human rights to the men, women and children in the occupied West Bank and what Noam Chomsky once called the “world’s largest open-air prison,” the Gaza Strip. 
 
 
Christopher Getowicz
University student
 
 
The second half of this letter will appear Wednesday