Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fresh Divestment Struggles:

At UC-San Diego Wednesday, and at Georgetown too--

At Georgetown University:

"Divestment Coalition Receives Negative Response from GU"

By Elizabeth Rowe | Apr 30, 2010

THE HOYA (Georgetown University; Washington, DC), at:

The administration dealt a blow to Georgetown, Divest!, a coalition of students on campus that wants the university to divest from companies that may profit from human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine, on Tuesday.

Assistant Vice President for Business Policy and Planning LaMarr Billups wrote a letter to Georgetown, Divest! stating that the administration would not modify its investment practices.

Referencing the coalition’s April 9 meeting with a senior team of administrators, Billups wrote, “At that meeting you asked if Georgetown University would divest from managed funds that own stocks in certain companies that do business with Israel. The answer to that question is no.”

The question of divestment is a difficult one, since the university does not invest directly in companies, but rather in managed funds. The Investment Office does not make its investments public.

“Georgetown’s investment practices do not include the selection of individual securities,” Director of Media Relations Andy Pino said. “As a result, the question of divestment does not apply.”

Still, Georgetown, Divest! member and Vice President of Students for Justice in Palestine Jackson Perry (COL ’12) said he knows Georgetown, Divest!’s struggles are not for nothing.

“First of all, [Chief Investment Officer Larry Kochard] told us that he believed we were invested in Caterpillar,” Perry said. Caterpillar is one of the companies that Georgetown, Divest! has asked the university to divest from.

Perry added, “Condoms and cohabitation are not permitted on campus because they are not in keeping with the Jesuit values of the institution, yet the administration thinks our Jesuit values shouldn’t play a role in investment decisions at all? This is hypocrisy.”

Other schools around the country are also pushing university administrations to divest.

According to a press release from the chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California, Berkeley, students have been working to pass a bill through the UC Berkeley Student Senate on divestment since March.

On Wednesday, the Georgetown University Student Association Senate met to vote on a bill that would urge the university to divest from two companies that profit from the manufacture of weapons for the Israeli Army. The student senate failed to override the veto on the bill, falling short by just one vote.

Other American universities that have called for divestment include the University of Michigan Dearborn, Hampshire College and the University of Wisconsin.

“Changing the status quo is one of the hardest things for anyone to do,” Perry said. “However, we are optimistic that the right amount of pressure from various directions, including especially the constant reminder of the moral values of our university itself, will break through the bureaucratic inertia and amoral mindset that is currently dominating the way the university has responded.”


At the University of California - San Diego,

“I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again":

"Council Delays Decision On Human Rights Violations:

"After emotional public input and a complete rewrite of the divestment resolution, proponents plan to reintroduce original language next week."

By Angela Chen

April 29, 2010

THE GUARDIAN (University of California at San Diego)


Hundreds of students gathered at the A.S. Forum last night to watch the council debate a controversial resolution calling for the University of California to stop investing in companies providing military technology to Israel. The resolution identified the Palestinian territories as being occupied by a military force guilty of committing human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The council ultimately voted 13-10-4 to create a committee to further discuss the resolution.

The resolution, which was modeled after a similar effort at UC Berkeley, called for the UC Board of Regents to divest endowment funds from corporations such as General Electric and United Technologies. According to the resolution, these companies manufacture technology used in military weapons and vehicles, such as helicopters, used in war crimes in the Middle East.

According to Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh — who helped draft the document — the resolution is not the first of its kind. However, Ghosh said, if it had passed, it would have been the first recognition of Israel’s war crimes to be approved at a public university. Hampshire College, a private college in Massachusetts, has already divested entirely from the state of Israel. (The resolution considered by the council last night only advocated a break from corporations said to profit from Israel’s alleged war crimes....)

...Ghosh said that he would bring up the resolution again at the 2009-10 council’s final meeting of the year, which will be held next week.

“Next time I won’t bring up the compromised document but instead the original document,” he said. “I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again and it might take 10 years, but divestment will pass."


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