Endowment Justice Collective writes report to detail opposition to University investments
The Rutgers University Endowment Justice Collective (EJC) submitted a 10-page report to the Joint Committee on Investments (JCOI) earlier this month that details why they feel the University should divest in various industries.
“A preliminary (still incomplete) deep-dive into the Rutgers endowment has demonstrated that the University currently has holdings in a cross section of corporations that are destroying environments across the world, exploiting workers around the world by utilizing sweatshop labor, contributing to a violent and racist prison industrial complex, acting as agents of imperialism and colonialism through involvement in the military industrial complex and perpetrating an apartheid system against the Palestinian people,” according to the report.
James Boyle, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and member of the EJC, said the University created a process around 2014 where members of the campus community can submit a request to the JCOI to divest from a certain industry, though the policy is fairly vague.
“We, I think, went above and beyond what even the request process requires,” he said. “There are no requirements to have cosigners and no requirements to even find the specific investments of the endowment, but we really wanted to make as strong of a case as possible.”
Through the process of creating this report, Boyle said the EJC wanted to not only focus on these divestments, but also on restructuring how the endowment itself is viewed.
“We really want more democratic oversight, where there is input and control from students, faculty and community members about where this money is going,” he said. “We want more transparency.”
Boyle said that while the EJC filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request with the University and extensively looked at the endowment, some information was still not made available for them to view.
The EJC also attended the Rutgers Board of Governors meeting on Feb. 18, where they brought attention to their concerns, including a conflict of interest.
“The fact that Greg Brown, CEO of Motorola Solutions, is sitting on the Board of Governors and previously held the position on the JCOI, the Joint Committee that oversees the endowment, while the endowment was being invested in the company,” Boyle said. “The fact that he is lining his pockets is, first of all, unethical.”
He said the University’s investments in Motorola Solutions is particularly egregious, not only for its conflict of interest but also due to practices of the company itself.
The United Nations released a report on Feb. 12 that names 112 companies that are profiting off of Israel's illegal settlements in Palestine. Among those companies is Motorola Solutions.
“Not only is this an example of a really unjust and, I would say, violent investment because it is inflicting so much harm on so many people, but it’s also just a blatant conflict of interest,” Boyle said. “We should not be investing in the company of someone who sits on the Board of Governors. We should either be divesting from Motorola Solutions, or Greg Brown should not have a position on the board.”
The EJC gathered support through student organizations on the report, such as Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine, Rutgers Students for Environmental Awareness, Rutgers Amnesty International and Rutgers Democratic Socialists of America, among others.
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