PPPD has invited journalist and Princeton Professor Chris Hedges to speak at the teach-in.
“I applaud what you’re doing,” Hedges said. “I found it emotional and moving.”
Hedges taught in prisons for 10 years.
“The prison system is the modern iteration of slavery by this corporate state,” Hedges said. “We are going to have to join this class war that has already begun by those within this prison system. It’s not going to work to appeal anymore to the centers of power.”
Professor Naomi Murakawa, who writes about incarceration among other subjects, asked a question addressing the “already low bar for public prisons” and their “standard abusive practices.”
“This is an incredible consensus,” she says, noting the 177 faculty members who have joined the petition.
Professor Murakawa also asked whether the committee would consider a rewrite of the proposal. Several committee members said, “Absolutely.”
She pressed President Eisgruber on his statement that the University is not invested in private prisons. He has not yet responded.
Students are gathered in the lobby of Friend to hear student groups, including the Princeton Advocates for Justice, and guests speak.
Graduate students are now speaking at the teach-in:
“We’re not just calling for divestment because we want to divest from prisons. We’re calling for divestment because we want to abolish prisons,” graduate student Heath Pearson said.
PPPD and a large portion of audience members have left the meeting, and they plan on holding a teach-in. President Eisgruber has opened the meeting up to questions.
Some CPUC member comments from the audience:
“How could the University divest without making a very bold political statement?
“We are an educational institution…We need to be careful not to take a political stand.”
PPPD is leading a walk-out and has invited everyone to attend a tech-in in the lobby of the Friend Center.
Students are chanting “What do we want? Divestment. When do we want it? Now.”
Watch the walk-out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWr446jH_Hc
PPPD is now speaking:
“I don’t know what Eisgruber is talking about when he says we’re not invested in private prisons,” one student announced. “What’s going on in this room right now is a charade.”
“We have undeniably shown campus consensus around this issue.”
“With respect to the referenda- 89% of undergrads and 85% of grads voted in favor [of divesting].”
“This movement is not over and it will not be stopped.”
Students said that the Committee’s decision and discussion did not respond to PPPD’s proposal.
Princeton Professor Michael Littman outlined the Committee discussions about the proposal. The The Council of Princeton University Community met three times this year and will meet two more times this year.
During its meeting on March 10, the committee decided that “the proposal in its current form, did not meet the high bar to recommend action,” the Committee said. The committee felt that there was insufficient evidence, and the issue “remains under active consideration,” Littman said.
President Eisgruber began the discussion by stating that the University has no assets invested in private prisons, or the companies listed in the petition, but that the issue remains critical as it would impose a filter on future investments by the University.
Eisgruber: “We don’t normally discuss what’s in our investment portfolio, but I can tell you we do not hold investments in the companies that are the focus of this petition.”
Bob Durkee is currently speaking about Agenda 1 discussing University contributions to the community. Friend 101 is completely full. Several students are standing in the back are students holding signs:
“Stop incentivizing incarceration,” “Princeton Divest,” and “Private prisons =/= Justice”
PPPD distributed flyers to students and community members attending the meeting:
The Council of Princeton University Community will announce today, March 27, in a community-wide meeting that the University will reject The Princeton Private Prison Divestment (PPPD) campaign to divest from private prisons.
PPPD has organized a protest after being informed in advance that their petition for the University to divest from “11 companies operating or exclusively contracting with private prisons and detention centers” had been rejected.
“PPPD will publicly reject the legitimacy of the decision, and lead its supporters in a rally nearby,” PPPD said Monday in a press release. “The campaign will continue to escalate until the University divests from the companies and industries detailed in the coalition’s proposal.”
A Facebook event asking people to attend the CPUC meeting wearing red to protest the decision was shared with more than 1,400 people. An undergraduate referendum on private prison divestment last spring, supported by PPPD, failed because not enough students voted on it. One-third of the undergraduate student body must vote on a referendum for USG to consider it. Among students who did vote on the private prisons referendum, almost ninety percent were in favor of divestment.
Princeton alumni have also organized an online petition to CPUC’s decision, reiterating that “we cannot allow the school we love to continue to support an industry that profits only when depriving human beings of freedom.”
The University Press Club is here in Friend 101 to live blog the meeting and protest. Stay with us.