Stu­dents march against school’s port­fo­lio

Want fos­sil fuel in­vest­ments, Puerto Ri­can debt elim­i­nated

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Luther Turmelle

NEW HAVEN — More than 100 Yale Univer­sity stu­dents and their sup­port­ers marched from out­side the Ster­ling Me­mo­rial Li­brary to the school’s In­vest­ment of­fice on Whit­ney Av­enue Fri­day to protest how the school in­vests

its money.

Chant­ing, “No hate, no fear, di­vest­ment starts here,” and other slo­gans, the marchers from a coali­tion of stu­dent groups and la­bor or­ga­ni­za­tions sought to force the univer­sity to or­der fund man­agers to can­cel Puerto Ri­can debt hold­ings and dis­close in

what fos­sil fuel cor­po­ra­tions Yale is in­vested. The marchers want the univer­sity to di­vest from fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies.

In ad­di­tion to the march, a group of 54 stu­dents staged a sit-in at the in­vest­ment of­fice that be­gan at noon Fri­day.

“They are will­ing to risk ar­rest if we don’t get what we want,” Martin Man, a third-year stu­dent in Yale’s grad­u­ate ar­chi­tec­ture pro­gram

and one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the protests, said of those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sit-in.

Yale po­lice later ar­rest ar­rested 48 of the peo­ple who par­tic­i­pated in the sit-in once the in­vest­ment of­fice closed at 5 p.m., ac­cord­ing to Man

Among the groups lead­ing the protest were Fos­sil Free Yale, with which Man is af­fil­i­ated , and De­spierta Boricua, the school’s Puerto Ri­can stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion.

“We are here to­day to call Yale out on its com­plic­ity on cli­mate in­jus­tice and the Puerto Ri­can debt,” said Ale Canales, a ju­nior in Berke­ley Col­lege who was one of the lead­ers of the march. The fund man­agers with which Yale’s in­vest­ment of­fices works are seek­ing to as­sure that their claims get paid be­fore other cred­i­tors as Puerto Rico seeks to solve its debt cri­sis.

Mem­bers of Lo­cal 33 Unite Here, a la­bor union that rep­re­sents thou­sands of cler­i­cal, tech­ni­cal, fa­cil­i­ties and cafe­te­ria em­ploy­ees at Yale, also were in­volved in the protest. Charles Decker, a mem­ber of the Lo­cal 33 re­search team, said the fos­sil fuel in­vest­ments and ef­forts to get pri­or­ity among Puerto Rico’s cred­i­tors are “only one in­stance of Yale’s seek­ing to profit from the debt and from the pain of peo­ple of color.”

Un­til the ar­rest of those who par­tic­i­pated in the sit-in, Yale Univer­sity of­fi­cials had taken the day’s events in stride.

“Our stu­dents are en­gaged and pas­sion­ate, and free­dom of ex­pres­sion is cen­tral to their ed­u­ca­tion,” Tom Conroy, a Yale spokesman, said Fri­day. “Peace­ful demon­stra­tions about var­i­ous is­sues are go­ing to be part of that.”

Yale of­fi­cials con­tend the school was at the fore­front of the eth­i­cal in­vest­ment move­ment, with ini­tial ef­forts dat­ing back to 1969. The univer­sity’s board of trus­tees, for­mally known as the Yale Cor­po­ra­tion, would later form the Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mit­tee on In­vestor Re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­view is­sues re­lat­ing to eth­i­cal in­vest­ing.

That com­mit­tee has ad­dressed con­cerns about fos­sil fuel in­vest­ments and Puerto Ri­can debt in the past, ac­cord­ing to univer­sity of­fi­cials.

The group, which is sup­ported by the Yale Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on In­vestor Re­spon­si­bil­ity, an­nounced in 2014 that the best way for Yale to ad­dress cli­mate change con­cerns was through a pol­icy of share­holder en­gage­ment rather than di­vesti­ture.

The Yale Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on In­vestor Re­spon­si­bil­ity ad­dressed the Puerto Ri­can debt is­sue in Oc­to­ber 2017, de­ter­min­ing that di­vest­ment from Puerto Ri­can debt was not war­ranted when an in­vestor is abid­ing by the ap­pli­ca­ble le­gal frame­work in a process in which the debtor’s in­ter­ests are ap­pro­pri­ately rep­re­sented. Jonathan Macey, chair­man of the Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on In­vestor Re­spon­si­bil­ity, has said there have been no al­le­ga­tions of un­eth­i­cal debt col­lec­tion ef­forts or prac­tices and that in­vest­ment man­agers have fidu­ciary du­ties to their in­vestors that likely pre­clude them from uni­lat­er­ally for­giv­ing Puerto Rico’s pay­ment obli­ga­tions.

Man said fol­low­ing the march that univer­sity of­fi­cials “proudly cel­e­brate the history of the Civil Rights Move­ment on cam­pus, but are quick to pun­ish stu­dent or­ga­niz­ers for par­tic­i­pat­ing in peace­ful protest.”

“The funds for our ed­u­ca­tion should not come from en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion and preda­tory debt,” Man said. “Th­ese in­vest­ments are im­moral. They sig­nal that the univer­sity sees no is­sue with the hypocrisy of sup­port­ing and profit­ing from fos­sil fuel ex­trac­tion, cli­mate in­jus­tice, and neo-colo­nial ex­ploita­tion while prid­ing it­self in its cli­mate sci­ence re­search and ed­u­ca­tion of so­cial jus­tice.”

Luther Turmelle / Hearst Connecticut Me­dia

More than 100 Yale Univer­sity stu­dents be­gin their march from Ster­ling Me­mo­rial Li­brary to the school’s in­vest­ment of­fice on Whit­ney Av­enue Fri­day in New Haven.

Luther Turmelle/Hearst Connecticut Me­dia /

Pro­test­ers out­side Yale Univer­sity’s Ster­ling Me­mo­rial li­brary lis­ten to speak­ers dur­ing a rally and march Fri­day.

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