Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign Drops Banners at Visitas Event in Annenberg Hall

Via Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign

At 12:15pm on Sunday, April 28, 2019, six Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign activists dropped two banners in the Annenberg Dining Hall during Harvard College’s “Visitas” weekend, where accepted students visit Harvard’s campus. One banner read, “Incarceration Funds Your Harvard Education” and the other showed HPDC’s logo. The activists chanted, “Make our degree prison free!” Visiting students in the dining hall cheered for the activists.
One student stated through a megaphone, “Our campaign is calling on Harvard to disclose more information about their investments and divest from the prison industrial complex. However, the administration and President Bacow are refusing.

Yesterday, Bacow admitted at a major donor lunch that the University only has $18,000 invested in private prisons. HPDC’s most recent report on Harvard’s holdings in the prison-industrial complex demonstrates that $18,000 is, at best, an unintentional lie. Based on just the 1% of the endowment that is publicly disclosed, Harvard has at least $3 million invested in prisons and the prison-industrial complex. With respect to just two private prison companies, CoreCivic and the GEO Group, the Harvard Management Company’s ETF portfolio data shows that Harvard has $38,020 and $43,451 invested, respectively, as of Harvard’s most recent SEC filing from February 8, 2019

The student stated to the crowd in Annenberg, “Whether you have already committed to Harvard, or you have yet to make your decision, it is imperative that you are equipped with information about this place that they don’t tell you on the welcome brochure. If you do end up here next year, we hope you join us in our fight for investments that uplift rather than harm people.

The banner drop on Sunday marks another attempt by HPDC to call Bacow and the University to account for their actions. Since the beginning of the campaign, HPDC has gathered thousands of signatures from students, faculty, staff, affiliates, and community groups. The campaign has secured support from the student leadership bodies of Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Harvard Kennedy School. Most recently, Andrew Gillum, Bryan Stevenson, Ava Duvernay, Cornel West, Lauren Chief Elk, Khalil G. Muhammad, and others have signaled their support for the campaign. But in the face of this overwhelming support, the administration under Lawrence Bacow has only obfuscated and delayed. Despite their failure to muster an argument in defense of their investments, Bacow and the university administration have signaled no willingness to disclose the fullness of their holdings, divest, and repair the harm these investments have inflicted.

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