Tag Archives: divestiture

Students launch protest, open Divestment Office

If you’re taking a walk by Admissions today, you’ll no doubt notice the protest being held by students pushing for the University’s divestment from weapons contractors. They’ve been out there since yesterday, says Laura Heath ’11, pictured above. And they plan on camping out for as long as it takes—if needed, until May, when the trustees are set to decide on the divestment issue.

Students have also established a Divestment Office blog to chronicle the developments of the protest, and the divestment issues at stake:

After planning for several weeks, students were given permission to erect a tent city on the lawn of the Investment Office protesting Wesleyan University’s investment in weapons contractors. Quickly, two tents were pitched and a small sign which reads “Divestment Office” was hung from one of the tents.

The tents were set up to protest Wesleyan’s investment in several weapons contractors [that] have returned enormous profits since the start of the Iraq War. The school has an undisclosed amount of its endowment invested in companies such as General Dynamics and Raytheon. Both companies make the majority of their profits from government defense contracts. […]

Until the Board of Trustees, which holds the power to divest, has removed Wesleyan’s financial investment in weapons contractors, the tents will remain set up on the lawn.

Divestment meetings on Tuesday, Thursday

Preparatory forum for trustee meeting
Open to the entire campus and hosted by SEWI and the WSA, the topics covered will include the Investment Office’s presentation on Wesleyan’s investments, SEWI’s weapons divestment campaign thus far, and socially responsible investing.

Date: Tuesday, March 25
Time: 4:15 PM
Location: Usdan 108

Trustee working group meeting on divestment
Open to the entire campus as observers, with limited seats open for participation. Please come to the preparatory meeting on Tuesday if you would like to participate.

Date: Thursday, March 27
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: Woodhead Lounge (in Exley)

(Times for the Thursday meeting updated by Mad)

Action-packed WSA meeting tonight at 7:00 PM

Tonight’s WSA meeting promises to be a hardcore, action-packed, must-see event!

  • Joe Bruno, Wesleyan’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, will be talking about student concerns over drop/add and course access. There is talk about making changes to the drop-add process, and we invite all students who have an opinion (bad or good) about the current system to attend tomorrow night’s meeting.
  • The WSA will also be discussing two proposed resolutions at tomorrow night’s meeting. The first relates to the proposal to build an Army Base at a greenfield location in Middletown. At last week’s meeting, Mike Pernick ’10, presented the WSA with a resolution that denounces the army’s plans to build on that location and asks the Wesleyan administration to take a stand on the issue. The resolution was tabled last week and will be voted on at this week’s meeting.
  • The second resolution that will be discussed tomorrow concerns divestment. This resolution relates to another resolution that the WSA passed last April, which urged the Wesleyan Board of Trustees to divest from two companies that were manufacturing weapons being used in Iraq. The resolution tomorrow is being presented by Kathy Stavis ’10, on behalf of Students for Ending the War in Iraq (SEWI). The resolution asks the Wesleyan Board of Trustees to vote on SEWI’s specific divestment proposal by the end of the semester.
  • Also, the first ten minutes of every WSA meeting are an open forum for student concerns. Any student or student group with any concern is invited to come and speak to the WSA during this time about any issue.

This thing is so big, there’s even a Facebook Event for it.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 24
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Usdan 108

Die-in for divestment happening really soon!

Lucas Guilkey ’10 sent us a Facebook message!

This is just a reminder that today at 5:45 PM we’ll gather in Usdan 110 for the die-in to bring awareness to Wesleyan’s investments in weapons contractors and to call on the administration to divest. All are welcome to participate.

Yes, that’s in less than 45 minutes.

Date: Thursday, Jan. 31
Time: 5:45 PM
Location: Usdan 110

Divestiture Debate Makes Headlines

Daniela Altimari of The Hartford Courant reports on the divestiture debate:

Late last month, after a lengthy and impassioned debate, the Wesleyan Student Assembly approved a resolution denouncing such investments. Wesleyan’s portfolio includes holdings in Raytheon and General Dynamics.

To junior Erik Rosenberg, a member of Students For Ending the War in Iraq, it boils down to one question: “Can we really be comfortable with educating ourselves with money that was made through violence?”

But other students expressed concern about the financial ramifications of divestiture, a concern Rosenberg dismissed.

Others say the war is a complicated issue and divestment would be a symbolic move, at best. “Divestment is such a blunt tool,” said Jon Golden, a junior and student assembly representative from suburban Philadelphia.

Golden says he doesn’t support the war and didn’t vote for President Bush. “I think the war has been a foreign policy debacle,” he said. “But some people think if you oppose the war, if you oppose the Bush administration, then divestment is the answer. I think there is a more nuanced argument to be made.”

College activists have used divestment in the past as a mechanism to force social change. The most notable example is the anti-apartheid movement that began in the late 1970s. Hundreds of colleges and universities, including Wesleyan, unloaded stock in companies that did business with the apartheid government in South Africa.

Since then, Wesleyan has instituted a number of changes to hold corporations accountable and make sure the university’s voice is heard, said Justin Harmon, vice president for public affairs.

“Our approach has been to try and engage companies if there are issues in terms of their corporate behavior … that are of concern to the campus community,” Harmon said. “There is a sense that engagement and dialogue could be a constructive mechanism and potentially more powerful than the symbolic act of divestiture.”

Administrators say they are unsure of how many students back divestiture. A rally last week drew about 30 supporters, though Rosenberg said more than 600 signed a petition supporting the idea.

“Next year, we’re going to try to get the larger Wesleyan community involved,” he said. “We definitely have a long way to go.”

Rosenberg said he has yet to broach the issue with incoming President Michael Roth, but he believes Roth will be supportive. “I think he really does see students as agents of change, not just in our own community but in the national community and international community,” he said.

After all, Roth is no stranger to such activism: In 1977, as a student at Wesleyan, he slept in the president’s office, according to an article by Lindsay Ceballos in the May 7 edition of the Wesleyan Argus. He was protesting the university’s investment in companies that did business with South Africa.