Stanford Students Demand Divestment from Prisons
Members of Stanford Prison Divest asked the Stanford University Board of Trustees to vote on prison divestment at their June meeting.
STANFORD, CA — On April 11th, 2016, Stanford Prison Divest presented members of the Stanford University Board of Trustees Subcommittee on Investment Responsibility (SCIR) with a briefing on their forthcoming request for review to divest from private prisons, and asked the Board to vote on prison divestment at their June meeting.
“We want to make sure that members of the SCIR understand the urgency of our ask,” said Dan Brown ’18, a student campaigner. “The private prison industry is responsible for massive human rights violations. It is way past time for Stanford to disavow this exploitative industry.”
The forthcoming request for review specifically calls on Stanford to divest from private prisons, divest from private prison corporation stakeholders, divest from prison labor beneficiaries, and engage in shareholder advocacy with prison support industries.
In their briefing, Stanford Prison Divest argued that an institution that claims to care about its marginalized students should not invest in a racist and classist system of incarceration. Prisons, particularly those which are privatized, rely on incarcerating large numbers of people to stay solvent. Private prisons have used their money and influence to lobby for laws that increase sentencing for petty offenses and disproportionately affect communities of color. Both private and public prisons have a history of abusing and neglecting those behind bars, leading to wanton human rights violations including excessive force, inadequate health care, solitary confinement, and sexual assault.
The demand for prison divestment was first articulated in the twenty-five demands of the Who’s Teaching Us? Coalition in early March. It comes in the wake of notable victories for prison divestment activists at peer schools, including Columbia University and University of California.
Stanford Prison Divestment will submit the official Request for Review with the Stanford University Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing (APIRL) within the week. Students are hopeful that the APIRL will be expedient in conducting its research and providing a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, although they note that the SCIR does not explicitly need a recommendation from APIRL to vote for divestment.
“We will continue to work through all channels to ensure that Stanford expediently ends its funding and support for the mass incarceration of Black and Brown communities,” concluded Brown.