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Black students persuade UC to sell prison shares
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California has decided to unload at least $25 million worth of stock in three private prison companies following a campaign by black student activists from the system’s 10 campuses, a spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.
The university’s chief investment officer informed members of the Afrikan Black Coalition on Friday that the university would sell its investments in two of the companies, Corrections Corporation of America and The Geo Group, by Dec. 31, said Kamilah Moore, a field organizer with the student group.
The move makes UC the nation’s second university to forsake its private prison holdings in response to student pressure. Columbia University in New York became the first in 2013. Black and Latino students in Arizona and Texas are launching similar campaigns, Moore said.
The Afrikan Black Coalition represents black student groups at the 10 UC campuses. Its members argue that prison spending deprives schools of needed funds and encourages high incarceration rates that disproportionately affect blacks.
University spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the system also plans to sell its shares in the third company, G4S, by the end of the year, though none of the private prison holdings are being sold strictly for social reasons.
After the coalition raised the issue in November, the stock’s performance was re-evaluated and it was deemed a poor long-term investment, Klein said.
“UC has a policy against blanket divestments. Instead, we evaluate our investment opportunities from a risk perspective,” she said. “Many factors figure into this perspective, such as whether social, governance, or environmental issues make the asset too risky over the long term.”
Moore applauded the decision, but said the group was concerned the university focused too heavily on financial, rather than social, reasons.