There’s a growing movement among progressives on America’s college campuses which calls for a divestment from the nation of Israel.

In a new post at the Brown Spectator, writer Olivia Conetta offers an alternative view.

The Problems with Divestment

Divestment has recently become a buzzword at Brown. The Brown Divest Coal Campaign calls for Brown’s divestment from “15 of the largest and filthiest coal companies in America,” according to its website. The Brown Daily Herald reported in November that, in a letter to President Christina Paxson, the Brown Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies recommended starting a campus dialogue about the University’s investments in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, a measure that the student group Brown Students for Justice in Palestine supports.

It is difficult not to feel incensed by the chilling facts about coal that Brown Divest Coal showcases on its website or the knowledge that Brown invests in companies that commit human rights violations. But would Brown’s divestment of coal companies or human rights-violating companies make a real difference?

For one, we have to consider how much money Brown has invested in each of the offending companies. While Brown does not make its investments public, it does disclose the worth of its endowment, which currently stands at about $2.5 billion. If we assume that Brown’s investment officers diversify the school’s portfolio, it follows that Brown invests less than $2.5 billion in the companies at stake for divestment. Such a sum of money is chump change for American Electric Power, a member of the “filthy 15” coal companies due to its large consumption of coal. The company brought in over $15 billion in revenue in 2011.