Largest student petition in Florida's history calls for USF divestment
Students at University of South Florida are leading the largest petition ever at any Florida university. The petition demands ethical investment from the university’s $391 million endowment. Over 10,000 STUDENT signatures call on the USF Foundation to divest from companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine.
“It’s appalling that our university does not have a policy requiring investment only in ethically-sound companies,” said Ahmad Saadaldin, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at USF. “This gives us students the impression that our school values profits over our duties as global citizens.”
The petition has listed three direct demands: transparency, ethical investment, and divestment. Because the majority of the investments are in co-mingling funds, the investments have little or no transparency. Currently, the USF Foundation does not have any policy that ensures that the endowment is invested in a socially just manner. The combination of these factors has led students to galvanize one of the largest campus efforts for accountability in the endowment.
Students have made a clear call for the USF Foundation to act today and to act immediately. The university’s endowment is “very liquid”. This means, that if USF Foundation decides, it can divest from more than 85% of its portfolio within a month.
In addition to garnering almost a quarter of the student body’s endorsement, several faculty members and student organizations have announced their support of the petition.
“We support SJP’s petition to make USF a [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] school,” said Gage Lacharite, president of Students for a Democratic Society. “Boycotts have historically been used in movements against oppression, such as the UFW strikes of the 70′s and the anti-South African apartheid movements of the 80′s. The occupation of Palestine by Israel is a criminal act that must be stopped.”
The petition builds on the legacy of the civil rights movement and the movement to end South African apartheid. As USF students stand up in the pursuit of equality and justice, this movement vitalizes the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. engraved on the center of the campus, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”