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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boeing accused of assisting in war crimes; divestment resolution passed unanimously

A+Boeing+AH-64+Apache+helicopter+in+flight%2C+one+of+the+machines+accused+of+being+used+for+war+crimes.
A Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter in flight, one of the machines accused of being used for war crimes.

 

 

On April 18, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) passed a resolution demanding that the University of Massachusetts divest from the Boeing Corporation and install a “Responsible Investment Committee” to monitor the university’s investments. The resolution was supported by Students for Justice in Palestine and by 32 faculty members. The bill’s authors cited Israel’s use of Boeing-manufactured Hellfire Missiles and Apache attack helicopters in its three-week attack on the Gaza Strip in 2009 (“Operation Cast Lead”).

According to the resolutions, investing in Boeing is in direct conflict with UMass Boston’s mission of “serving the public good of our city, our community, our nation and our world.”

Amnesty International condemned Israel’s action, calling the attack “a serious violation of international humanitarian law” and a “war crime.”

The university’s investments are managed by the UMass Foundation, which, according to the foundation’s Executive Vice President Robert Goodhue, is a separate entity from the university. Neither the university nor the foundation has responded to the accusation that the investment portfolio is not a matter of public record. The university has not made known its assessment of Boeing, nor has it commented on how the Board may respond to the resolution.

Press Representative to the UMass President’s office Robert Connolly, told The Mass Media that the foundation’s investment strategy “is aimed at creating funding for high-priority programs, such as providing scholarship aid to UMass students.” He said that the Board of Trustees may not be aware of the USG’s resolution. “If [the resolution] has not been conveyed, the Board would not be in a position to respond,” Connolly said.

UMass Boston student Daniel Finn, a political science major, supports the bill. Finn described how he and the other authors of the bill discovered the connection between UMass and Boeing:

“The Minutemen Equity Fund, managed out of the Isenberg School of Management at Amherst, is used by students to practice and develop investment skills. The students managing the fund regularly post their top earning investments on their Facebook page. Boeing Corp is frequently at the top of their list,” he said.

The UMass Foundation provides the Minutemen Equity Fund with its seed money. Day-to-day investment decisions are made by student teams with guidance from their advisors.

Finn added, “It seems clear that regulatory bodies, the people in charge of the university’s investments, do not see an issue between the school’s mission statement and investment in Boeing. There appears to be no ethical opposition to the university investing in Boeing.”

In 1978, the university divested from companies that did business with South Africa, which was then an apartheid state. In 2007, UMass Boston divested from Sudan to protest the genocide in Darfur.