In the context of economic globalization, universities reach far beyond the traditional boundaries of the campus. The entanglements between university endowments and the global economy raise questions about ethical investment. University expansion to create satellite campuses and programs abroad global feature of the university as employer and neighbor. This expansion also reveals the persistent connections between the university and US empire. Finally, the project of globalizing the University marginalized the study of Africa and the African diaspora.
Charles Decker, Local 33-UNITE HERE, highlights his union’s campaign to hold Yale University accountable for its investment in Puerto Rican debt.
University and colleges should divest form their relationships with the US military-industrial complex. This should include banning ROTC programs and other military recruitment as well as rejecting DOD funding for research. The university’s global engagements and investment should have the university’s core education mission in mind, and as result, should be subject to faculty oversight and governance.
Unlike the fight for divestment in South Africa where the university’s direct investment in companies made the lines of investment clear, most university endowments are now organized through pooled funds that make it more difficult to trace investments. We recommend that universities are more transparent with their investment practices and that they set guidelines for responsible and ethical investments. Such standards should be set by a committee that represents the various stakeholders of the university including students, faculty and staff.
As with their immediate neighbors, universities and colleges should extend community benefits agreements to their global neighbors. Global expansion should be carried out with the same ethical standards that we advocate in the local setting.
Universities and colleges should work to incorporate a more expansive global vision by paying greater attention to the African and African Diasporic world. Black studies departments and their equivalents should play a key role in these ventures.