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SINCE 1891

THE BROWN DAILY HERALD TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

VOLUME CLIV, ISSUE 58

BROWNDAILYHERALD.COM

UNIVERSITY NEWS

UNIVERSITY NEWS

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk to speak at U. Dec. 11

ACCRIP votes to recommend divestment

U. chapter of nonprofit invites conservative activist, author to speak BY HENRY DAWSON AND OLIVIA GEORGE SENIOR STAFF WRITERS Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative student organization Turning Point USA, will speak at the University Dec. 11. Kirk’s visit marks the first time a representative from TPUSA has come to speak on campus, according to Christian Diaz De Leon ’21, president of TPUSA Brown. “We’re excited to bring a conservative speaker to articulate a viewpoint students don’t really get exposed to in class.” Kirk founded TPUSA in 2012 when he was 18 with the hope of building a grassroots conservative network spanning high school and college campuses across the nation. Since 2016, TPUSA has maintained a Professor Watchlist, which documents college professors deemed to discriminate “against conservative students

and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” The nonprofit organization is represented on over 1500 American campuses, according to the TPUSA website. The University’s Undergraduate Council of Students approved the Brown TPUSA chapter as an official student organization in the Dec. 2018, The Herald previously reported. De Leon hopes to foster a constructive dialogue between Kirk and students despite tension surrounding TPUSA on campus. “It’s one thing to have free speech. (But) it is another to give a platform to people who actively attack and undermine the identities of many of our students and make them feel marginalized on this campus,” said Zoë Mermelstein ’21, president of Brown College Democrats. Mermelstein affirmed that Brown Dems supports a diversity of thought in speakers on campus, but emphasized that there is a “very big line between who disagrees with us and somebody who is attacking identities.” Citing comments that he has

SEE KIRK PAGE 3

Corporation will review divestment recommendation before deciding action BY OLIVIA BURDETTE SENIOR STAFF WRITER The Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices voted to recommend that the University divest from “companies identified as facilitating human rights abuses in Palestine” Monday afternoon. Six of the nine committee members present at the meeting voted in favor of the motion, which also recommends that the University’s Investment Office communicates the University’s desire to divest to all of its investment managers. Two alumni members of the committee voted against the motion, while another committee member abstained. The vote came at the end of ACCRIP’s final meeting of the semester, during which the members heard from several professors who presented arguments both in favor of and against the divestment proposal. Once ACCRIP makes their recommendation to the University, a Proxy Committee of the Corporation will review it and decide whether to take action, according to ACCRIP’s official

UNIVERSITY NEWS

UFB extends baseline funding for 33 groups Cultural, religious groups receive extra $400 per semester in 2019-20 pilot program BY KAYLA GUO SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Revised Category III Baseline Funding The Undergraduate Finance Board revised its policies to extend baseline funding to $600 per semester for Category III cultural, ethnic, spiritual and religious student groups for the 2019-20 school year.

charter. ACCRIP has not yet presented its report to President Christina Paxson P’19. “It would be premature to speak about a report we have not received,” Assistant Vice President for News and Editorial Development Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Herald. “ACCRIP intends some process of further review with its members before submitting to the president a report in support of a recommendation for consideration,” he added. After minimal deliberation, seven members of ACCRIP voted to acknowledge that social harm was occurring in Palestine, while two abstained. The committee’s final agenda item was to decide whether they were ready to vote on recommending divestment. ACCRIP Chair and Professor of Med-

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Revised

Semester Base Funding Source: Undergraduate Finance Board SARAH MARTINEZ / HERALD

groups. The representatives informed the Board that they experienced difficulties covering food costs, and they collaboratively suggested the increase in baseline funding as a policy solu-

tion, said UFB Vice Chair Fatoumata Kabba ’22. “One of the major” consensuses of

SEE UFB PAGE 2

SEE ACCRIP PAGE 4

Policy experts talk IsraelPalestine conflict David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari push for a two-state solution in Israel, Palestine BY CELIA HACK UNIVERSITY NEWS EDITOR

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ical Science Chi-Ming Hai said that the committee should “take action” to make a recommendation as soon as possible so that the student organizers could be recognized for their activism. Pro-divestment attendees of the meeting broke out in applause and cheers once the motion was passed. “I am really excited that ACCRIP took this step towards divestment,” said Tal Frieden ’19.5, a member of student group Jewish Voice for Peace, in an interview with The Herald. “We know that this is the first Ivy League university to recommend divestment from companies committing human rights violations in Palestine, and we’re really excited for

UNIVERSITY NEWS

$600 500

The Undergraduate Finance Board extended baseline funding to $600 a semester for Category III cultural and religious student groups last month in an effort to lessen the financial burden of purchasing food for group events. These student groups typically receive $200 a semester from the Board and are eligible to apply for additional funding. The 33 cultural and religious student groups will receive the extended baseline funding in the spring and have already been given an additional $400 this semester. This policy change came in light of an Oct. 13 focus group discussion UFB held with representatives from cultural and religious students

BENJAMIN TORUNO / HERALD

Two thirds of the ACCRIP members present voted in favor of the motion.

Two Middle-East policy experts came to campus Monday night to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict, with each recommending a “two-state solution” in which both Israel and Palestine become independent states. David Makovsky, the director of the Washington Institute’s Project on Arab-Israel relations, and Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow in the Washington Institute’s Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, represented Israeli and Palestinian perspectives, respectively. Makovsky served as senior advisor during the 2013-14 Israel-Palestine

Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Commentary

Commentary

Gabe Simon ’20 releases bizarre, mesmerizing debut album Page 2

Princeton prof. discusses research on gender identity, transphobia Page 4

Singh ’19.5, Gold’20, Gomberg ’20: UFB funding missguided Page 6

Hall ’20: PTP guest speaker Matt Ridley undermines climate change science Page 7

peace talks led by Secretary of State John Kerry. Al-Omari is a former Palestinian Authority official, who served as a Palestinian negotiator during the permanent status negotiations in 1999-2001. Brown Students for Israel hosted the event, “Across the Green Line: Seeking Cooperative Solutions to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” to discuss “how cooperation-based solutions can move towards a lasting and just peace,” according to the event description on Facebook. “Instead of shouting at each other across the aisle, across flyers, across the room, both sides and all sides (should) work together to try to come up with cooperative solutions,” said Ethan Swagel ’23, a member of BSI and a lead organizer of the event. “Extreme positions don’t get anywhere and blame games don’t get anywhere, but working together can

SEE PANEL PAGE 8

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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | NEWS

UFB FROM PAGE 1

to food for these events, but the group faced difficulties obtaining funding from the Board earlier this semester, Jones said. As a result, the group had to dip into their limited raised funds, spend money out-of-pocket and extend their fundraising efforts. According to the Board statement, the increase in baseline funding will “hopefully re-engage” groups who stopped requesting money from UFB because they were discouraged by previous funding decisions, and ensure that “less time is spent on fundraising and more time is used to help spread awareness and appreciation for the various cultures and religions on campus.” UFB will likely evaluate the policy, which is being piloted for the 2019-2020 school year, and ask student groups for feedback at the end of the spring semester, Kabba said. “There should be work continuing to happen for cultural and religious groups” because extending baseline funding “doesn’t solve all of their problems,” she added. UFB is considering, for instance, making the focus group discussion with cultural and religious groups an annual or semesterly event. The Board has also introduced two internal committees focused on outreach and transparency to continue conversations about student group funding, Kabba said. “It’s important for us that groups … feel welcome when they come into UFB and they feel respected.”

the focus group discussion was “how important food was in cultivating the kind of cultural communities that we had aspired for in our groups,” said Black Christian Ministries Co-President Jared Jones ’22. Jones said it had been a “battle trying to explain to (UFB)” why food was necessary for their events. Prior to the policy change, challenges in requesting and obtaining funding for food from UFB also led some groups to seek outside funding, which “suggests that UFB has inadequately been supporting” them, according to a statement from UFB. In requesting funding from the Board, cultural and religious groups felt that they had to “defend their culture to people who don’t have the right to make value judgments on their culture … and how integral food is,” Kabba said. By extending the baseline, “UFB removes itself from having to make determinations about the cultural or religious significance” of budget requests, said Junaid Malik ’20, executive board member of the Pakistani Students Association at Brown. Cultural and religious groups are set apart from other student groups because they focus on “cultivating specific communities,” Jones said. BCM, for instance, holds a weekly kickback event, during which students come together in fellowship. Much of its budget every semester is allocated

ENGLISH DEPARTMENT FALL PRIZES 2019 The Barbara Banks Brodsky Prize for Excellence in Real World Writing - $800 Awarded to a full-time junior or senior enrolled at Brown. Submission may come from the spectrum of nonfiction: literary journalism, memoir, or narrative based on travel, science, history, or cultural critique. Submission of brief essays or one longer essay should be limited to 3,000 words. ~~~~~~~~~~~

The Barbara Banks Brodsky Prize in English - $800

For the best essay on 20th-century literature in English by a junior or senior. ~~~~~~~~~~~

David Rome Prize - $175 For the best lyric essay by a currently enrolled undergraduate. This form includes essays written in poetical or experimental forms that emphasize artfulness. ~~~~~~~~~~~

Arlene Rome Ten Eyck & Peter H. Ten Eyck Prize - $175 For the best essay on literary theory by a currently enrolled undergraduate. ~~~~~~~~~~~

Rose Low Rome Prize - $175 For the best poem or poems by a currently enrolled undergraduate.

Entries must be submitted online at: !

Barbara Banks Brodsky Prizes: http://brown.edu/go/brodsky-prize-2019 Rome Prizes: http://brown.edu/go/rome-prizes-2019

by 3:00 pm on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. *NO HARD COPIES OR LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED* *ESSAYS THAT HAVE PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED AN ENGLISH DEPARTMENT AWARD ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR ADDITIONAL AWARDS.*

For submission details, please visit http://brown.edu/go/fall-english-prizes

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

MUSIC REVIEW

Brown senior releases debut album

COURTESY OF GABE SIMON

The album’s first song, “No Water,” is accompanied by a music video that revolves around the intersection of the surreal with the everyday. Simon released the album under the name “Dogmanjones.”

‘Mr. Adrian Goes to Kihei’ available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music BY MARIANNA SCOTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER Gabe Simon ’20 released his debut album, “Mr. Adrian Goes to Kihei” last week under the stage name of “Dogmanjones.” Now available on Spotify and Apple Music, Dogman’s tracks resist any sort of neat denomination; punctuated by abundant sampling and incorporating elements of lo-fi, pop, hip-hop and jazz, his sound is undeniably unique. He refuses to allow his listener to settle into his music — nearly half of his songs are under a minute long, and most are composed of multiple melodically-distinct segments. Running at a mere 17 minutes, this trim little album is a whirlwind of image and sound. The unique chord that Dogman manages to strike — stylistically speaking — is best exemplified by the music video that accompanies the album’s first song, “No Water.” The colors of the video seem to change almost frame-by-frame, from oversaturated greens to grayscale to dreamscapes of

pink and yellow. The video revolves around the bizarre intersection of the surreal with the everyday: the masked Dogman reads a newspaper, runs around in a bathrobe, and spills his coffee, but also dances wildly on a dock, screams into the camera and slams on a huge drum set in the expanse of an open meadow. The effect is strange and perhaps even a bit jarring, but the vision is so cogent and the discordant elements so meticulously interposed that the result is undeniably compelling. Dogman maintains this brand of chaotic whimsy throughout the rest of his album. His second song, “Green Pinecone,” is delivered from the perspective of an anthropomorphic pinecone as he sings, “I’m a green pinecone that was knocked off my tree / and I’m pretty sad about it ‘cause I didn’t want to leave.” From there, we immediately depart from the perspective of the pinecone as Dogman sings, “How many slices of banana should I put in my oatmeal?” This phrase is repeated over and again, layering on itself rhythmically and melodically, transforming this routine question into something complex and captivating, something that becomes worthy of contemplation. The album also includes “Flip Flop,” which begins as a chaotic ode to a lost flip flop and then shifts to a

rhythmic chill-pop jam, and “Thanks for Coming,” an epic exposition of the rules of a Dogman house party. Not to mention “SFO,” which interrupts itself halfway through to proclaim, “And who could forget the story of the seagull and hotdog?” These peculiar moments have no obvious connection to one another, but by pairing vibrant, eclectic images with corresponding auditory elements, Dogman creates a kaleidoscope of sorts; his discordant pieces ultimately cohere into something that is odd and irresistible. Although the album largely avoids following a single melodic thread for an entire track, it is full of tantalizing glimpses of Dogman’s ability to write melody. This is especially apparent in Dogman’s fourth song, “Nothing Left to Say,” which is a decided departure from the rest of the album in both tone and degree of uniformity. The melody is elegant, the lyrics sharp and poignant, and when combined with Dogman’s crisp, yet muted, vocals, the result is haunting. This is the sort of song you want to listen to for five minutes, not 1:19. Dogman’s striking vision and unique sound reflect an acute musical ability and a formidable lyrical talent. Fortunately for Dogman’s listeners, this can only mean that there are more exciting things to come.


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | NEWS

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COURTESY OF GAGE SKIDMORE

Charlie Kirk founded Turning Point USA in 2012 when he was 18 years old. Today, the group is represented on over 1500 American campuses.

KIRK FROM PAGE 1 made about people of color and the LGBTQ community, Mermelstein said that Kirk crosses that line. During the first half of his talk Kirk will discuss “the biggest political issues facing current day Americans,” while the second half will be a Q&A between Kirk and the audience, according to De Leon. TPUSA Brown hopes to organize a constructive conversation between Kirk and students who hold opposing views.

Mermelstein does see productive conversations between those of opposing points as possible, citing the Oct. 31 No Labels 2020 Election Debate between Brown Democrats and Brown Republicans. But, “personally, I don’t think it’s productive to ask questions of someone I know frequently distorts the truth and partakes in bigoted language,” she added. The talk will be located in the IBES building at 85 Waterman Street and start at 7 p.m.

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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | NEWS

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

ARTS & CULTURE

Princeton prof. shares research on gender identity, U.S. judiciary system Gayle Salomon discusses transgender student Latisha King’s murder trial BY EMILY TENG SENIOR STAFF WRITER Gayle Salamon, professor of English and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University, visited the University’s English department yesterday to share her research on the relationship between gender identity and sexual orientation in the American judiciary system. Ada Smailbegovic, assistant professor of English, opened the talk by introducing Salamon as a winner of the Lambda Literary Award in 2011 and the author of “The Life and Death of Latisha King: A Critical Phenomenology of Transphobia,” which was published in 2018. After the brief opening, the microphone was passed over to Salamon, who began by talking about her latest work investigating the trial on the murder of Latisha King, a 15-year-old transgender student who was shot by a fellow student in 2008. Previously referred to as Larry

ACCRIP FROM PAGE 1 other universities to join this movement.” Frieden added that Jewish Voice for Peace would “hold the University accountable to fulfilling this recommendation” in a follow-up message to The Herald. Student group Brown Students for Israel voiced concern over the outcome of the vote in a Facebook post. “We strongly condemn this motion,” the group wrote. “Moreover, we are appalled by the disregard and disrespect to which anti-Divest students, faculty, alumni and even ACCRIP members, were subjected in the course of today’s meeting.” At the meeting, Professor of History and Judaic Studies Adam Teller argued against divestment on the grounds that student group Brown Divest’s proposal was too vague to address the Israel-Palestine conflict. “Behind this proposal is a blackand-white schematic view of what’s going on in the Middle East, when in fact there are many more complexities,” Teller said. Instead of divesting, which he argued would make the University “partly responsible for outbursts of violence” in the Middle East, Teller said that an effective solution to the conflict could only come from negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

King throughout the majority of the murder trial, evidence later revealed that King came out as trans — renaming herself Latisha King — moments before she was shot. As Salamon closely followed progress of this trial,

manner.” Noah Brooksher GS, a third-year PhD English student, was drawn to the “theoretical and practical” relation of sexual and gender identity in the talk. Salamon’s use of “a phe-

she explained that her aim was to “carefully study the misrecognition at the heart of the Latisha case” and how “gender identity was misread as sexual identity.” Salamon then discussed Supreme Court cases involving gay and trans employment discrimination — cases like R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which involved the unlawful termination of transgender funeral home employee Aimee Stephens — to problematize how sexual orientation was misconstrued as gender identity in legal contexts. Salamon argued that many “Supreme Court oral arguments and decisions grapple quite a bit with the hypothetical.” “Trans identity is so often used as a hypothetical — a philosophical problem of logic — (so) the law fails to recognize the ‘phenomenological living’ of trans people,” she explained, adding that trans people have “actual bodies and lives which have long been integrated in the social fabric in a non-cataclysmic

nomenological method to talk about trans experience under the law is really unique and compelling,” he elaborated. During the question-and-answer segment, Salamon acknowledged changes to differentiating gender and sexual identification in the legal system. “One of the changes is that some of the justices knew the word cisgender, some of the justices knew some trans terminology and (had) some more cultural familiarity with transness,” she said. But she warned that although recognition and awareness of trans lives has increased exponentially over the past decade, so has violence against trans people. “It’s really heartening to see these cases coming to court, but also disheartening that the exact same logic is used in them, which is that a trans woman is just a man pretending to be a woman” she said.

Teller said that he finds the claim that divestment “will reduce the social harm felt by Palestinians to be ridiculous and to have no value.” Professor of History and Classics Kenneth Sacks also argued against divestment. Though he acknowledged that the Israeli occupation of Palestine caused social harm to Palestinians, he could not support the proposal because “it is absolutely contributing to antisemitism.” He said that pro-Israel students and faculty “feel marginalized by the fact that they are Jewish, not the fact that they are Zionists.” As one of the faculty members who signed an open letter in support of Brown Divest’s referendum in April, Professor of History and Modern Middle Eastern History Beshara Doumani P’22 presented an argument for divestment. Doumani disagreed with Teller, saying that the proposal “does not need to be disguised as just a complex issue.” “This is a clear case of systematic discrimination and violence by one powerful party against another that has been going on for decades,” he said. “When students and faculty say we would like to … right a wrong we see, that is not complicated.” Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media Ariella Azoulay called upon other

Jewish people as well as ACCRIP to support the divestment proposal, even if it cannot fully put a stop to human rights violations in Palestine. “I insist on our right as Jews to support and to take responsibility towards the catastrophe that is happening on a daily basis in Palestine,” she said. “It’s true that it will not solve the Palestinian catastrophe, but it will be what students can do today. Even if it is small, it is significant.” Alumni ACCRIP member David Mueller ’81 P’17, said that to move to a vote on divestment during yesterday’s meeting “without the committee having any chance to … deliberate this question is really irresponsible.” ACCRIP staff representative Christina Fournier responded that it was “kind of insulting” to assume that committee members were unprepared to take a vote. “The onus is on us to do our own research, and it sounds like we’ve done that,” she said. “All of us independently are saying we feel comfortable pursuing a vote, it’s alright if you don’t.” At the end of the meeting, Hai put the motion to a vote because there were“significant numbers of ACCRIP members” who were comfortable with the motion.

EMILY TENG / HERALD

Gayle Salamon (above) won the Lamda Literary Award in 2011 and wrote a book about the death of Latisha King last year.


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | TODAY

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A Conversation About the Peace Process in Colombia 12:00 P.M. Watson Institute

Odyssey Lecture: Matt Ridley, Rational Optimist 5:30 P.M. IBES 130

Chamber Music and AMP Strings Concert 7:00 P.M. Grant Recital Hall

Meiklejohn Information Session 7:30 P.M. Sayles Hall 306

TOMORROW OMAS Cookies and Cocoa 11:30 A.M. Vartan Gregorian Quad A 106

Public Health Wellness: BURP Massages 12:00 P.M. 121 South Main Street

Summer Programs Info Session 3:00 P.M. Swearer Center

Documenting the Cold War in the Dominican Republic 5:30 P.M. Watson Institute

Q U OTE OF TH E DAY

S U D O KU

“It’s one thing to have free speech. It is another to give a platform to people who actively attack and undermine the identities of many of our students.”

—Zoë Mermelstein ’21

SEE KIRK PAGE 1

SNOW MUCH F UN !

RELEASE DATE– Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CR O SDaily SWOCrossword RD Los Angeles Times Puzzle Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

ACROSS 1 Employment agency listings 5 Fried Cajun veggie 9 WWII conference site 14 Billion extension 15 Steady guy 16 He hunted with a club in the “Odyssey” 17 Club used as a weapon, say 20 Nonagenarian actress White 21 Yeats or Keats 22 Color, as Easter eggs 23 Summer quencher 24 Dorm VIPs 27 Where Lux. is 29 Kid-friendly comfort food 36 Soothing additive 38 River through Sudan 39 Country rocker Steve 40 Sable maker, briefly 41 Turn __ ear 43 Pub projectile 44 Former Portuguese territory in China 46 Prefix with -pus 47 Abates 48 Tests during which checking notes is allowed 51 Gymnast’s goal 52 Deli bread 53 Art on skin, slangily 56 Draw upon 59 Not as much 62 Calf-roping gear 64 Candid sort 68 Street toughs 69 Diamond Head’s island 70 Aromatic drinks 71 Go on tiptoe 72 Small songbird 73 Wine area near Turin DOWN 1 “Star Wars” gangster 2 No longer squeaky

3 Xbox battle game 4 Told to go 5 Asian tie 6 Barbie’s guy 7 Grating voice 8 One might get stuck in a jam 9 Video-sharing website 10 Radius’s limb 11 Committed perjury 12 Randall who played Felix Unger 13 Chip in a chip 18 Supermodel Banks 19 Marsh stalk 25 Tolstoy’s Karenina 26 Snowmobile brand 28 “__ and weep!”: poker winner’s cry 30 Take back 31 Smart guy? 32 More like Felix Unger 33 African countries on the Mediterranean, e.g. 34 Mediation agcy.

35 Congeals 36 Target practice supply 37 “... one giant __ for mankind” 42 Cunning 45 Washington Monument, for one 49 Universal blood type, for short 50 Related to flying 54 Had lunch in

55 Foot bones 56 Letter carrier’s org. 57 Leave speechless 58 Marine eagle 60 Vegas event 61 Kindergartner’s reward 63 Tiny bit 65 Wanted-poster letters 66 Sailor’s pronoun 67 Attila, notably

ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE:

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02/12/13

VICTORIA YIN / HERALD

By Melanie Miller (c)2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

02/12/13

As students returned to campus from Thanksgiving break, they were greeted with the first snow storm of the year. Now, finals loom over students in the winter wonderland on College Hill.


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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | COMMENTARY

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

To the PTP: Don’t legitimize climate denial BY GALEN HALL ’20 STAFF COLUMNIST

Peter Kropotkin was a Russian aristocrat, political agitant, contemporary of Marx and radical anarcho-communist. Besides being an all-time great class traitor, he also had a passion for science. My favorite work of his is a book called “Mutual Aid,” a collection of essays written during the late 19th century. In it, Kropotkin leveraged early ecology and biology against a pernicious set of proto-Social Darwinist ideas, which were percolating amongst pseudo-intellectual British aristocrats at the time. Social Darwinists held that rivalry of man against man was the natural way of life, and that humankind’s first instinct was to fight or compete. Out of this competition, the “fittest” and most valuable people emerged victorious. It followed from this thinking that governments were to support the free market, which utilized and rewarded humankind’s propensity for competition, and society should accordingly celebrate the rich capitalists and powerful politicians who succeeded within it. Kropotkin responded to these Social Darwinists with a vibrant and radically different interpretation of ecological data. He showed that among hundreds of species and nearly all human societies, cooperation was the norm rather than competition. Kropotkin emphasized that the same was true of human societies; he viewed mutual aid as the rule and violence as an exception. Other books and general trends in academic social science dealt the death blows to Social Darwinism, leaving it a fully discredited and outdated ideology. Or so it seemed. Today, many Social Darwinist-style assertions have simply been repackaged, their surface ugliness sanded over, painted in bright new pop-science colors and presented back to the public. We no longer invoke “survival of the fittest” in discussions of individuals — such an argument would clearly be just a small step removed from eugenicism or imperialism. But what about survival of the fittest with regards to ideas — the notion that the best and “fittest” theories necessarily outlast weaker doctrines? This is the sort of argument put forward by Matt Ridley, a British aristocrat, proud coal mine owner, failed banker and pop-

ular science journalist, who has been invited by the Political Theory Project to give a public Odyssey Lecture at Brown University today. As we will see, this quasi-scientific historical narrative goes hand-in-hand with Ridley’s denial of real science. In recent books such as “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves,” and “The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge,” Rid-

“For the most part (Ridley’s) skill lies in weaving scientific anecdotes into a compelling but ultimately blinkered and amateurish argument for libertarianism.”

ley makes the case that technology and ideas co-develop through decentralized interactions between people, in an emergent process beyond the control of any one person or institution. Over time, Ridley argues that failed ideas lose prominence while successful ones remain, and this process has resulted in the enormous gains in prosperity that (some of) humanity has experienced over the past three centuries. According to Ridley, commerce and market institutions have played a central role in spurring economic and intellectual progress. This is because commerce encourages interaction and competition between people, and therefore between their ideas. As one enthusiastic reviewer put it, “where people are free to trade in the broadest sense — including the free exchange of everything from genes to ideas — prosperity ineluctably follows.” At the very least, Ridley has some interesting takes on old ideas. His contributions prove valuable to the extent that they remind pessimistic leftists that romanticizing peasant lifestyles or deifying the State are good ways to make millions of people go hungry. Of course, not many leftists actually hold such naïve beliefs, and there is no shortage of public intel-

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lectuals to reprimand those who do. But Ridley says all of this in an entertaining way, and he manages to incorporate a wide variety of ecological anecdotes and historical tidbits to fill in his picture. In this regard he almost represents a modern, libertarian Kropotkin, albeit with marginally better credentials (if a PhD in pheasant mating practices counts). But that’s about where Ridley’s appeal ends.

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For the most part his skill is limited to weaving scientific anecdotes into a compelling but ultimately blinkered and amateur argument for libertarianism, as multiple less enthusiastic reviewers have attested. If this were his only shortcoming, his visit would not be worth a column. After all, at any time there are plenty of popular writers who use biology, physics or a rough reading of history to support their own Theories of it All. But Ridley also has a more insidious tendency to reject or ignore facts that he disagrees with (or that disagree with his conclusions), even as he points to his own scientific credentials. Nowhere is this tendency more evident than in the case of climate change — a major obstacle to the kind of “Rational Optimism” that Ridley promotes. A non-linear and potentially catastrophic process like climate change threatens Ridley’s simplified narrative of human progress: it suggests that many of the technological wonders that humans have achieved over the past two centuries are eroding the very environmental stability on which that progress depends. On the one hand, Ridley is correct that without fossil fuels, we probably couldn’t have made amazing things

like refrigerators, indoor plumbing and “Age of Empires II: The Definitive Edition.” But he fails to acknowledge if we keep using fossil fuels — which currently power nearly all of our production, transportation and communication (and therefore all of our trade) — the resulting harms will begin to outweigh the benefits of past progress. Accordingly, Ridley expends a lot of energy disputing “climate alarmism” and the scientific consensus around climate change. His claims range from sensible (that human extinction from climate change is unlikely) to very misleading (that economic models prove climate change won’t have a serious impact) to completely false (that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says climate change is not a large threat) to patently absurd (that climate alarmism was responsible for the Boeing 737 crashes). He is a member of the Global Warming Policy Forum, a nakedly climate-denialist think tank. He believes that Greens in the United Kingdom are conspiring with Russians to destroy the fracking industry in Europe. And when multiple scientists dissected a climate-centered interview with Ridley, they found almost no straightforwardly true statements. It is hard not to conclude that a good deal of Ridley’s “Rational Optimism” depends on an irrational rejection of pessimistic scientific findings. All of this goes to show the difficulty that the PTP faces in fulfilling its stated mission —“to investigate the ideas and institutions that make societies free, prosperous, and fair” — when it invites speakers like Ridley. Though Ridley’s writing may be engaging if not convincing, it seems wrong to grant him the privilege of speaking at the University. After all, Ridley’s main conclusions depend on his repeated and systematic denial of three decades of modeling and observations in ecological and physical science. He has demonstrated his unwillingness to accept criticisms from climate scientists, and continues to promote false narratives while claiming the authority of scientific credentials. The PTP can do better. Galen Hall ’20 can be reached at galen_ hall@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald. com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | COMMENTARY

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UFB Funding is inequitable, misguided DHRUV SINGH ’19.5, MICHAEL GOLD ’20, WILL GOMBERG ’20 OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS

In light of this week’s funding release by the Undergraduate Finance Board, we, the leaders of Brown’s largest service organizations, wish to voice our profound disappointment in UFB’s funding practices. The release revealed that UFB disproportionately funds some student groups, while service and social action organizations struggle to make ends meet. UFB’s decision to concentrate funding into a narrow subset of Brown’s student groups is a historically misguided practice that disservices community engagement and reflects poorly on our values, commitments and priorities as Brown students. Currently, UFB distributes all of its annual $2 million budget with the requirement that funding must directly benefit Brown students. This requirement is extrapolated from a narrow interpretation of a single clause of its constitution: “Decisions of the UFB shall in all respects reflect the fact that the student activities monies do not belong to the UFB, but are held in trust for the student body.” In practice, UFB applies this policy to deny certain funding to service groups. We disagree with this inequitable, unclear and misguided interpretation. The funding release shows the perverse outcomes of such an interpretation. Essentially, it is fairly straightforward to acquire UFB funding so long as funds are not used to address systemic inequality in Rhode Island or support the continuation of meaningful partnerships between Brown students and the Providence community. Service groups work in sustained partnership with community members to tackle systemic inequality that Brown often perpetuates. In doing so, they also provide their members invaluable experience in this kind of work. These groups are limited in their ability to implement these objectives because of UFB’s current funding practices. Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere, Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring, Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment, Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education and the Petey Greene Program together have hundreds of members, who work in long-term, meaningful partnerships with various parts of the Providence community. These

six groups are collectively funded at $28,451. More broadly, the 22 groups classified by the UFB as “Service Organizations” are funded in total at $43,094. HOPE alone has 142 direct service workers and several dozen advocates, totaling about 200 students. The collective effort of HOPE students are funded by the UFB at a total of $4,557, or about $23 per student. This money covers vital direct outreach supplies like water, first-aid kits, toiletries and winter clothing. In contrast, the 20-person Brown Mock Trial

tioners. Shouldn’t our UFB also fund a student’s exposure to work as an engaged social worker, an educator working with marginalized populations or a community organizer? Doesn’t that constitute a “benefit” even if it is not as direct as paying for plane tickets? While Brown Mock Trial and other highly funded organizations are surely worthy extracurriculars, it is difficult to believe that a viable mock trial team would struggle to exist without tens of thousands of dollars in travel fees. It’s also difficult to believe that this allocation

“We want to reimagine UFB funding practices as one small way to address the marginalization that Brown perpetuates and has failed to address sufficiently throughout its history.”

team received $40,446 in the 2018-2019 school year. At a rate of about $2022 per student, this money mostly pays for significant cross-country travel. Other examples of disparate funding include: Chess Club ($12,592), Table Tennis Club ($11,447) and Formula One Racing ($9,775). In drawing this contrast, we are not targeting Brown Mock Trial or any other organization. The top three funded organizations — Brown Concert Agency, Lecture Board and Class Coordinating Board — all serve important roles in the Brown community and host large-scale student events. We also recognize the importance of student groups as a way for students to find community around shared passions and to gain valuable skills for life after Brown. Mock Trial and the Brown Debate Union, two of the top funded organizations, are good examples of organizations that provide students with strong communities, valuable public speaking skills and exposure to the legal field. But organizations such as HOPE, BEAM and BRYTE also provide strong communities and vital professional exposure, often to fields where there is a stark shortage of qualified practi-

of UFB’s limited resources equally weighs the needs and considerable impact of all student groups. At the same time that UFB approved these lavish travel fees, it denied funding to BEAM, HOPE and BRYTE for important organizational functions. As a result, BEAM students have had to pay out of pocket for school supplies for their classrooms; HOPE has been unable to help clients obtain vital documents for acquiring housing; and BRYTE has been unable to fund more than one tutor/tutee community event. We want to reimagine UFB funding practices as one small way to address the marginalization that Brown perpetuates and has failed to address sufficiently throughout its history. Of the top 15 funded groups, not one is categorized by UFB as a service or social action organization. Service organizations continue to pick up the administration’s slack by working closely with communities to advocate for reform and equity. For example, HOPE fights for affordable and dignified housing alongside its community partners, a struggle that reckons with Brown’s

gentrification of Providence and its exemption from property taxes. Railroad pushes Brown to institute fair hiring practices for formerly incarcerated job applicants, an initiative the administration has slow walked. Brown students involved with BEAM serve Providence Public Schools in a far more sustained way than Brown’s own institutional efforts. These are just a few of countless examples. UFB’s policies should assign more value to this vital engagement. UFB might claim that its funding choices do not reflect value judgments of groups’ missions. But what you pay for shows what you care about. The policy of funding only what “directly benefits” Brown students, and the narrow way UFB applies it, fails to consider the needs of student service organizations. The 35-year existence of this policy does not justify its continuation. Indeed, it is all the more reason for the policy to change. The recent funding release and the policy upon which it is founded show how much UFB cares about student involvement in meaningful advocacy and community engagement. Quite frankly, it shows that UFB does not care enough. Michael Gold ’20, Will Gomberg ’20, and Dhruv Singh ’19.5 - On behalf of HOPE Leadership. They can be reached at michael_gold@brown.edu, william_gomberg@ brown.edu and dhruv_singh@brown.edu. Mia Pattillo ’20, a former Herald section editor, Evan Lincoln ’21, and Sara Montoya ’21On behalf of SHAPE Natalie Feinstein ’20, Mneera Al Saud ’20, Vaishnavi Sankar ’21, and Josué Zepeda-Sanic ’22 - On behalf of BRYTE Leadership Cayla Kaplan ’20 - On behalf of BEAM Leadership Yesenia Puebla ’21, Estrella Rodriguez ’22, and Nina Wolff Landau ’20 - Sunrise Brown and RISD Hub Coordinators Leni Kreienberg ’20 and Catherine Carignan ’20 - On behalf of Camp Kesem Coordinating Board Jenny Lee ’21 and Idalmis Lopez ’21 - On behalf of PAL Soham Kale ’21 and Eva Kitlen ’21 - On behalf of SEADD Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.


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PANEL FROM PAGE 1 move towards a productive solution.” The event follows nearly a year’s worth of activism pushing the University to “divest from companies that profit from Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories.” The University’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices voted to recommend that the University divest from “companies identified as facilitating human rights abuses in Palestine” Dec. 2. It also comes just two weeks after a student-sponsored panel focused on the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a movement that prioritizes the Palestinian right of return to Israel and calls for the end of Israel’s occupation of contested territories. Makovsky and al-Omari began by discussing the progress that has been made in the region since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the first face-to-face agreement between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. These successes include an “international consensus on what the endgame is — a “twostate solution” and a “good sense of what a menu of options is to end the conflict,” al-Omari said. The issues that a two-state solution needs to address are refugees, Jerusalem, borders, security and the issue of mutual recognition, he added. But both speakers believe that reaching a two-state solution within the next few years is not feasible. “The bad news is we are not closer

THE BROWN DAILY HERALD | NEWS

today to reaching a deal than we were when we met ten years ago. We might be further,” al-Omari said. Both speakers attributed this infeasibility to the political leaders of Israel and Palestine, who did not want to make politically unpopular decisions at the risk of compromising their legacy, the speakers said. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, “does not have the political legitimacy (today) to make these kind of concessions,” al-Omari said. “I feel these leaders get more focused on their place in history,” Makovsky said. “You don’t want to be written in the history books as making too many compromises.” Instead of attempting to negotiate a two-state solution that would address all five issues right now, Makovsky and al-Omari suggested addressing one issue at a time — hitting a “single” instead of a “home run,” as Makovsky said. He suggested addressing security in Israel and land in Palestine, as he said that those are their most visceral concerns respectively. Al-Omari gave an example of expanding the amount of land on which Palestinians are allowed to build in the West Bank. This decision would “show individuals in the West Bank today that they have something to gain from peace process” as well as “create a sense of partnership,” al-Omari said. Both speakers said that taking small steps to build trust between the two sides is essential to building

toward a larger compromise. “The biggest problem today we have is neither side believes the other side is a partner,” al-Omari said. “Both sides believe they want peace (and that) the other side doesn’t want it. We have to start showing there is space for cooperation to rebuild the idea of partnership.” At the end of their panel, both speakers took stances against the BDS movement, largely due to their belief that it is focused on a “onestate” outcome. “If you can’t agree the goal is two states, then frankly I cannot accept it,” Makovsky said. Ghaith also mentioned his concerns that BDS’s “narrative starts to border on anti-semitism” and that the movement alienates Israelis and Palestinians. The event had about 80 attendees. Nati Sror, an exchange student from Hebrew University in Israel, stopped by in hopes of hearing a “pragmatist solution,” he said. “The conversation is usually very polarized, with signaling if you’re pro-Palestine, pro-Israel,” he said. “If you really want change, you should listen to the pragmatists.” The event was sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Brown-RISD Hillel, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and the Israel Campus Roundtable, the last of which sparked concern for some students. “Israel Campus Roundtable is a coalition of organizations that in-

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

LEON JIANG / HERALD

Two Middle East policy experts discussed the Israel/Palestine conflict at a University event last night. cludes the Israeli consulate, birthright Israel and Israel On Campus Coalition. All three of those organizations are explicitly pro-Israel,” said Tal Frieden ’19.5. “The (event) is claiming to be advancing some sort of bilateral negotiations as resolutions to the conflict, yet it’s explicitly sponsored by the Israeli government and other organizations that work to advance Israel’s interests abroad.” Swagel said this concern was unfounded, adding that BSI had chosen speakers and a moderator before they applied for funding from ICR, and that the speakers only represented their own opinions as policy experts and former peace negotiators. “It’s almost a dog whistle of ‘it’s funded by an Israel group, everything that’s said will be biased, nothing will be factual or real,’ (which) is sort of distracting from the main point,” Swagel said. “I took away that it was

a really productive and interesting discussion of real solutions.”

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