Yesterday, students, campus workers, and allies from across the University of California system were in Los Angeles to call on the UC Regents to listen to student voices and divest university funds from corporations that profit from human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. Following the UC Regents’ signing of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investments in 2014 and clear votes in support of divestment by the University of California Student Association (UCSA), UC Graduate Student Worker Union (UAW 2865), and Student Governments on eight out of nine UC campuses, students are demanding the UC Regents ensure that the UCs reflect the values we all hold dear: freedom, justice, and equality.
The UCs are invested in the following corporations profiting from rights abuses, as documented by reputable human rights organizations: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Caterpillar, Cemex, HP, General Electric, 3M, Perrigo Company, Atlas Copco, Ford and Hyundai. Lockheed Martin, for example, manufactures Apache helicopters that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children, and Caterpillar supplies bulldozers to the Israeli military to demolish the homes of Palestinian families to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. Instead of investing in corporations that harm communities, universities should be investing in corporations that do business ethically.
Given the current political climate, it is critical that universities do all they can to support students and hear their concerns. Students, university workers, and allies are tired of their voices being ignored, despite widespread calls for action. The fact that eight of the nine UC campuses as well as the Graduate Student Worker Union and University of California Student Association have voted to support this campaign shows that there is overwhelming support for divestment and Palestinian rights at nearly every democratically elected decision-making body of the UC system.
The challenge now is to persuade the unelected body of UC Regents to heed the voices of the UC system and act to support human rights. Our money is our responsibility, and we are liable for the ways in which the UC invests out tuition dollars, especially if these investments impede upon the fundamental human rights of other people, including the families of Palestinian students on campus. If not us, who else will take responsibility for where our money is going and who it is hurting?
Students and workers from across the State stand in solidarity against tuition hikes, budget cuts, and the Regents continuation of investing in companies that violate Palestinian human rights at the hands of Israel’s war crimes and racial hierarchy. #UCDivest #NotMyTuitonDollars pic.twitter.com/LvTmKUh6QX
— UC Divest (@UCDivest) March 14, 2018
On Wednesday, March 14th, we delivered our demands directly to the UC Regents, as well as engaged in a day of education and movement building to strengthen the UC wide call for divestment. We were there, building lines of solidarity and for the future goals of our united communities.
After student pressure, the UC relented to the call for divestment from companies supporting Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, from companies involved in human rights violations in Sudan in the 2000s, and from some of the worst corporate polluters and destroyers of the environment in the 2010s. We expect that the UC will see the call to respect Palestinian rights in the same terms as those prior calls and cease to invest in corporations whose activity is tied to the violation of human rights in Palestine and around the world. There is no other way to abide by the Principles for Responsible Investments which they signed onto, and no other way to respond to the democratic will of the student governments of the UC system.
We expect the University of California Regents to take action to demonstrate they truly support responsible investment. They have an opportunity to show they value human rights and freedom for all peoples.