Hampshire officials: investment decision didn’t single out Israel

The following statement was sent to The Electronic Intifada in response to the 12 February 2009 press release issued by Students for Justice in Palestine at Hampshire College that claimed Hampshire College divested from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine:

We write to correct numerous reports circulating about actions taken by the Hampshire College board of trustees on 7 February 2009. The facts are as follows:

  • On 7 February 2009, the Hampshire College board of trustees accepted the report of its investment committee, which earlier had voted, without reference to any country or political movement, to transfer assets held in a State Street fund to another fund.
  • Based on a comprehensive review of the fund by the trustee investment committee, administrators and an outside consultant, the college found that this fund held stocks in well over 200 companies engaged in business practices that violate the college’s policy on socially responsible investments. These violations include: unfair labor practices, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing and unsafe workplace settings.
  • The review also led the board of trustees to vote to revise its 1994 socially responsible investment policy to bring it up-to-date with current standards and practices, and, pending revision, to suspend that policy.
  • The review of the State Street fund was undertaken at the request of a sub-committee of the investment committee, to address a petition from a student group, Students for Justice in Palestine. The investment committee’s decision, however, was based on the consultant’s finding that the State Street fund included 200-plus companies engaged in multiple violations of the college’s investment policy; the decision expressly did not pertain to a political movement or single out businesses active in a specific region or country.
  • No other report or interpretation of the actions of 7 February 2009 by the Hampshire College board of trustees is accurate.

    Sigmund Roos is chair of Hampshire College board of trustees, Ralph Hexter is president of Hampshire College, and Aaron Berman is vice president and dean of faculty at Hampshire College.