DePaul Divest coalition not happy with FBPC response to divestment referendum

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The Fair Business Practice Committee (FBPC) at DePaul University will take steps to make sure its investments are “responsible”, after DePaul Divest coalition successfully passed a divestment referendum through the university’s Student Government Association elections last spring.

The coalition,  led by students, had a goal to pressure the FBPC to divest its investments from companies, 12 to be exact, that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violation of Palestinians. The FBPC considered DePaul Divest’s request, but instead decided to focus its investment strategy on an initiative, Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI), that was developed by the United Nations. The coalition does not consider this to be a loss but is not satisfied with the committee’s decision.

“We plan on continuing to make noise on campus and to get the student body involved in divestment.  As a Palestinian, and a DePaul Alumni, I want my university–the place I received my education, worked, and made life long friends–to be ethical in their investments and to uphold the student vote on divestment. The DePaul Divest coalition will continue to work towards making the university accountable for the student vote and to uphold their Vincentian values,” Adeeba Mabruk, a member of DePaul Divest Coalition, told Palestine in America.

In an email to the DePaul Divest coalition, the FBPC addressed only one of the companies the coalition wanted the university to divest from, Hewlett-Packard (HP).HP recently announced that it plans to split up the company. DePaul’s FBPC does purchase items from HP, but it currently does not purchase from the “services and enterprise division,” which will split from HP, according to the email the committee sent to the coalition.

DePaul University explained in an article that it was “impractical” for the school to divest from the 12 companies targeted by the coalition because most of the underlying holdings of its fund managers are beyond the direct control of the university. According to the university, 75 percent of the university’s endowment and investment funds our managed by companies that have signed up for the PRI initiative.

However, the DePaul Divest coalition will continue to campaign and put pressure on the university to make ethical investments in addition to the “responsible” investments it has strived to make recently. The coalition said PRI has failed to address human rights abuses in the past.

“The DePaul Divest coalition recognizes this as an important step towards ending DePaul’s complicity in Israel’s numerous human rights violations. But the coalition also recognizes that continual statements of intent to act on the part of the university are not enough. We also recognize the flaws of PRI itself, which fails to properly and fully address issues of human rights abuses.The DePaul Divest coalition will continue to advocate for full divestment from Israel’s human rights violations until we as a university community are no longer complicit,” the DePaul Divest coalition’s statement said.

 

Nader Ihmoud

Nader Ihmoud is a Palestinian-American journalist based in Chicago. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Palestine in America.

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