Georgetown, Divest! relaunches ethical investment campaign

Georgetown, Divest! will re-emerge this semester to oppose the University investment policies, after attempting to end practices last semester that allegedly violate the University’s Catholic and Jesuit identity.

In a Facebook message sent to Divest! members, David Schwartz (SFS ’12), a leader of the group, criticized the University for failing to invest in a socially responsible manner.

“[W]e have been deceived to believe that ethics are a part of Georgetown’s investment history,” Schwartz wrote. “Now, as students, faculty, and clergy of Georgetown University, we must stand up for social responsibility in its investment policy.”

Last year, the group specifically criticized the University’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility, arguing that it misled students to believe the University invests ethically. In his message, Schwartz, who was unable to comment, calls for a new committee, “comprised of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.”

“This committee would uphold the basic tenets of Catholic social justice teachings, as they face the moral and ethical issues that arise,” he wrote.

Although Divest! ran highly visible campaign on campus last year, the group has yet to protest this semester.

Schwartz’s letter to the Georgetown, Divest! Facebook group:

Georgetown, Divest,

Please join us for weekly meetings on
Tuesday in ICC 211A at 9:00PM.

During a meeting with senior administrators last semester, we learned that there is no mechanism for oversight of our endowment and how it is invested. We also learned that Georgetown does not invest in a socially responsible manner, as is considered a moral imperative by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

That fact that our university refuses to conform to basic Catholic and Jesuit social teachings is not new to us. This time, we have been deceived to believe that ethics are a part of Georgetown’s investment history. Now, as students, faculty, and clergy of Georgetown University, we must stand up for social responsibility in its investment policy. Investing in human rights abuses and violations of international law contradicts the ideals and spirit of the university, as is highlighted by the Jesuits in the US:

“While legitimate differences will persist regarding the extent and precise shape of these obligations to the poor of the world, shareholder advocacy advances the Ignatian vision that includes a fervent desire “to be of help to souls” and “to find God in all things.” In a world sharply divided between great affluence and desperate poverty, followers of Ignatius can do no less.”

We challenge Georgetown University to recognize the importance of social responsibility in all of its operations, but specifically with regard to its investment policy. We call for the establishment of a Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility, comprised of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, which Georgetown misled us all to believe existed. This committee would uphold the basic tenets of Catholic social justice teachings, as they face the moral and ethical issues that arise.

We look forward to working with students, faculty, and administrators to realize the goal of the establishment of such a committee and to finally bring true social responsibility to Georgetown’s investments.

8 Comments on “Georgetown, Divest! relaunches ethical investment campaign

  1. Georgetown Divest was a propaganda front for the anti-Israeli movement. For all their talk about human rights and international law, the only companies they targeted last year involved Israel. Nowhere in all the high-minded rhetoric were the other egregious human rights abusers like Iran, Venezuela, China, etc.

  2. @Student you are on the money and it has been this way since the boycotts of South Africa in the 1980s. All the Arab countries have to do is to recognize the right of Israel to exist. The MIddle East is ruled by kings and queens. Need we say anymore? If they begin to examine the other countries you mentioned it really becomes troubling. I guess that murderer Che never really died.

  3. You know you’re on the right pathway in life when you’ve got Beltway Greg on your side. Go Team Apartheid!

  4. I’m always confused by Georgetown, Divest! They say that Georgetown is investing in “human rights abuses and violations of international law”, but they have never given any examples of these practices. If the University is, in fact, investing in a socially irresponsible matter, I’d like to know more specifics.

  5. Regardless of whether or not I agree with Georgetown Divest’s specific platform, at least they’re holding the university accountable for not just misrepresenting but actively lying about the existence of a committee for social responsibility in investment.

  6. This is a load of nonsense. Why can’t these self-important morons try worrying about more egregious sins than those committed in mutual funds over which Georgetown has no control. Bullshit.

  7. PJ is right. Its not as if Georgetown’s endowment office really has much control over what some fund managers (who are also likely subject to oversight of some kind) are doing. If Georgetown doesn’t invest in what the endowment office believes to be the best funds, then someone else will. I don’t really see how this group plans to make a difference.

  8. @Cockodile: I don’t know, I’d be pretty concerned if GU’s endowment office was unable to control how GU’s endowment is invested. If the fund managers don’t want to listen to our instructions, surely we could find another investment firm who would be happy to handle our requests?

    “I don’t really see how this group plans to make a difference.”

    I think it is worth it for you to go back and look at how apartheid was ended in South Africa. A huge global divestment movement severely weakened the South African economy and government, which strengthened the position of reformers like Mandela. Certainly, we’re not there yet with Palestine, but you gotta start somewhere.

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