Monday, December 22, 2008

Rutgers Must Divest from War Profiteers

Home News Tribune
Monday, December 15, 2008
Highland Park

I opposed the Iraq War from the beginning and have spent a good part of the last 5 1/2 years marching, attending and calling vigils, talking to my representatives in Washington and the Statehouse, writing letters to newspapers and going to lectures and films on various aspects of the war.

Now, I am joining a new campaign calling on Rutgers University, my former employer, to divest from military contractors and other companies that profit from war. Having the endowment invested in companies such as Halliburton, Raytheon, DynCorp, etc., is antithetical to the mission of the university, as stated by President Richard L. McCormick himself at his inauguration.

I was surprised to learn that Rutgers was at the forefront of the South African divestment campaign in the 1980s. I was not in New Jersey then. But I learned that former Rutgers president President Edward J. Bloustein was arrested in January of 1985 for civil disobedience in front of the South African consulate. We need that kind of courage and leadership today. I urge members of the community and Rutgers staff, faculty, students and administrators to join with Rutgers Against the War and other campus and community groups to end Rutgers' investment in war profiteering.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Previous Divestment Op-Eds

Rutgers should cut ties to war profiteers

Ryan Olander (from The Home News Tribune)
17 November 2008
Rutgers students and community members involved with the student organization Rutgers Against the War, or RAW, have undertaken the arduous task of pressuring the Board of Governors to divest from those companies who profit from the illegal and unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
RAW members obtained the list of companies in which Rutgers is invested. It should dismay everyone to know that the state's educational institution paid for its computers, chalk, microscopes and faculty salaries with money that was soaked in the blood of many innocent Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and Syrians. These companies include: Raytheon, DynCorp, Halliburton, and L-3 Communications.
After the discovery of Rutgers' profits from the above-named companies and eight other war profiteers, RAW members wasted no time. They began drafting a proposal to present to the Board of Governors imploring the university to divest all monies in these companies, disseminated many petitions for divestment and networked widely with other student unions and organizations, garnering many endorsements for the divestment campaign. It should be noted that the current campaign is modeled after the successful Rutgers South African divestment campaign that gained notoriety in the 1980s. I was astounded to find out that this divestment campaign recently tripled in size with Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark also beginning active divestment work on their campuses.
New Jersey residents should show their disgust for our state university's value of profits over justice, life and liberty — a sad trend engulfing the American political system and its policies and now creeping into its great beacons of learning. Please be prepared to stand in solidarity with Rutgers students throughout their struggle to make their university live up to an ethical standard to which its students and American citizens at large adhere with steadfast dedication.
In Defence of Divestment

This was written in a response to a Targum editoral found here
26 October 2008
The Targum published an editorial last Thursday that expressed hesitation at Rutgers Against the War’s divestment campaign. The editorial objected that some of these 12 companies targeted by the campaign, specifically General Electric and Caterpillar are not strictly “military contracting firms.” While these corporations do have many and varied subsidiaries, the editorialists seem to say that this makes the corporations not responsible for their subsidiaries. General Electric builds engines for military aircraft, drones, tanks and ships on a scale that makes it one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers. Caterpillar produces a wide array of military vehicles including the specific adaptable bulldozers that are used in Iraq and Palestine for reprisal attacks on homes. We don’t accept that the people responsible should be able to hide behind complex ownership arrangements, as Haliburton has attempted to do.
Not all of these corporations have been consistently profitable. Stock in Boeing, a self-described military contractor, recently fell 38 percent, and Caterpillar has seen its growth slow. We would like very much to be able to give a more definitive answer to this very important question regarding the specifics of divestment, but our hands are tied by the lack of transparency in Rutgers University’s financial arrangements. While we have written a proposal that explains our requests and reasoning, we can’t make concrete proposals without more detailed information and making this information available to the University community and ourselves is also a key element of our campaign.
Rutgers has a history of divestment. In the 1980s, Rutgers was one of the first universities to divest from South Africa, and in 2006, Rutgers divested from companies that do business in the Sudan. We think that this experience shows that divestment is a useful and affordable option, and that the situation in Iraq makes it morally imperative as well.

Allie is a graduate student and a member of Rutgers Against the War.
A Call For Divestment
17 April, 2008
Tiffany Cheng, Brian Williams, Timothy Hamburger
As students, faculty, staff and concerned citizens, we are deeply troubled that Rutgers University Endowment is invested in a number of military contractors, including arms manufacturer Raytheon, and the Department of Defense contractor, Halliburton. Why is Rutgers University invested in these companies? How do investments in these highly profitable businesses reflect on the mission of the University, which is to instruct, conduct "cutting-edge research that contributes to the medical, environmental, social and cultural well-being of the state," and perform public service? Our belief is that however profitable these companies may be, the business they engage in is antithetical to the stated mission of the university.
The U.S. military depends on private companies to maintain its occupation of Iraq and, in turn, these companies have made astronomical profits off of the death and destruction occurring there. Many of the businesses Rutgers invests in have a huge vested interest in seeing the War in Iraq continue: When Rutgers invests a dollar in these companies, that is literally one more dollar spent to prolong the war. We are sharing in the profits of war profiteers.
Further, many companies in which Rutgers invests have been tied to specific abuses in Iraq: L-3 Communications, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, employed all of the interpreters who worked at Abu Ghraib during the height of the scandal there. Raytheon supplied cluster bombs - which are widely believed to be illegal under international law - and now makes "JSOWs," fragmenting missiles designed for "soft" (human) targets as well as "hard" targets. The company also manufactured the missile that killed 62 civilians when it hit a Baghdad market in September 2003. And employees of the private security firm DynCorp International were responsible for the November 2007 death of an unarmed Baghdad taxi driver, after the driver had pulled over to allow the convoy DynCorp was guarding to pass.
Do we want our school affiliated with this kind of profitmaking? If not, the solution is clear: Rutgers must divest.
We all need to take a close look at the companies Rutgers is invested in (See below). This spring, Rutgers Against the War is launching a campaign to call on the Rutgers community to demand the University's divestment from companies profiting from and prolonging the war. Please sign our petition and join in our upcoming actions. Rutgers University, including former President Bloustein, was in the lead nationwide in the South African divestment movement of the 1980s. Let's take the lead again now.
Rutgers invests in Boeing, DynCorp, FMC Tech, Forrester Wheeler, GE, Halliburton, Honeywell International, L3 Communications, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, all of who have contracts in Iraq. There are also Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are used by the Israeli government to destroy Palestinian homes, and Exxon Mobile.
Tiffany Cheng is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in sociology. Brian Williams is a Livingston College majoring in history. Timothy Hambourger is a Princeton University Class of 2007 alumnus.