December 7, 2016
Students Demand Transparency and Ethical Investment
Georgetown University Forming a Radically Ethical Endowment (GU F.R.E.E.) launched a campaign against state violence in a rally in Red Square that called for the University to publicize what holdings, if any, Georgetown has in companies that consistently and knowingly endanger human life and dignity through the private prison industry and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. GU F.R.E.E. delivered a letter to President DeGioia asking him to confirm that Georgetown is not invested in multinational companies that empower state violence.
The campaign has three specific demands: transparency, divestment from private prison companies, and divestment from companies that contribute to the occupation of Palestine. Georgetown’s investments are not currently public, so there is no accountability for knowing what companies the University is invested in. If the University is invested in state violence, that violates its Jesuit values. Private prisons have a known record of violating basic human rights, including denying medical treatment, sexual assault, and labor exploitation. The occupation of Palestine includes Israel’s dispossession, displacement, arbitrary imprisonment and captivity, humiliation, and targeted execution of Palestinians.
Students from GU F.R.E.E. submitted a proposal to the Committee on Investment and Social Responsibility on October 12th recommending divestment from companies involved in the private prison and the occupation of Palestine, but have gotten no response regarding the university’s position on these instances of state violence.
After a rally in Red Square, students marched to President John DeGioia’s office to deliver a list of companies complicit in this violence and an accompanying letter asking him to confirm that Georgetown is not invested any of them. Failure to provide that confirmation will be taken as an admission of investment.
According to Eman Abdelfadeel, one of the campaign organizers, “Georgetown is using students’ well-being as a justification for what is really a purely profit-driven investment policy. This campaign is about saying that that is not acceptable. As members of the Georgetown community and stakeholders in Georgetown’s name, we need to make sure that our university’s money isn’t supporting state violence.”
Chris Morris, one of the speakers at the rally closed by saying, “Understanding our own complicity with the intentions of ending it is fighting back. Holding our University accountable is fighting back. Divestment is fighting back. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
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