Of the $5.7 billion in the University endowment fund, about $7.3 million is invested in defense contractors that supply missiles, vehicles and ammunition that is sold to the U.S. military.

The University chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, along with Anti-War Action, says these holdings violate the University’s Responsible Procurement code and plans to ask the University Board of Regents to divest from the five contractors at it’s meeting today.

“We’re asking for the University to adhere to its responsible procurement code, which applies to all business dealings,” said LSA senior Alex Smith, an SDS member who is organizing the divestment campaign.

The code defines socially responsible procurement as “conducting business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial, and public expectations that society has of business operation.”

However, the statement does not mention investments – it only deals with University purchasing.

As of June 30, 2006, the University held about $7.3 million of stock in Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Halliburton, according to documents obtained from the University that outline its investment for the fiscal year 2006.

Activists at Wayne State University and Michigan State University are also planning to push for divestment.

“Campuses are heavily involved in supporting a militarized society, and many have investments in military defense contractors,” said Aaron Petcoff, a junior at Wayne State University who is organizing the campaign.

Petcoff said that in addition to divestment, the Wayne State chapter of SDS is also pushing for an ethical investments policy to be created and implemented.

BAE Systems

U.K.-based BAE Systems is the fourth largest defense company in the world, and the University holds $2,199,329 worth of its stock. BAE Systems has several contracts with the military to supply vehicles for the war in Iraq. One of its most well-known aircraft is the Harrier Jump Jet – a plane armed with weapons like lasers and GPS-guided bombs, general-purpose bombs and cluster munitions.

The company is also under contract to manufacture armor to be installed on military vehicles in Iraq. The Defense Department has paid the company millions of dollars to improve its armored personal carrier, the Bradley Combat Systems vehicle family.

Raytheon

The University has $1,479,294 invested in Raytheon, which specializes in missile technology.

The company has a contract with the Army to provide missile upgrades. Raytheon was one of two companies selected by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Israel Missile Defense Organization to develop the Stunner Interceptor, which is part of a short-range missile defense system being developed by the two countries. Raytheon also develops missile-targeting systems used by the U.S. military.

Northrop Grumman Corp.

The University holds $2,754,580 worth of stock in Northrop Grumman Corp., a $30 billion defense company. In 2006, the company upgraded the munitions capacity of the B-2 stealth bomber. These stealth bombers, according to the company website, can deliver 80 500-pound smart weapons to different targets.

Vinnell Corporation, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, was granted a $48 million contract last year to train the Iraqi Army.

General Dynamics

General Dynamics is the sixth-largest defense contractor in the world and the second-largest shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy behind Northrop Grumman. Aside from ships, the company also manufactures combat battle tanks and advanced battlefield communication systems. The University’s shares of the company are valued at $392,760.

In 2004, General Dynamics was subpoenaed twice during a dispute with the U.S. Navy. The company was accused of supplying submarine parts that were not adequately tested, and of building submarines that did not meet the Navy’s specifications. After the subpoenas, the General Dynamics management closed the manufacturing facility that had produced the questionable parts.

Halliburton

The University also holds $520,075 worth of stock in oil supplies company Halliburton. Former CEO and Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to the company drew intense criticism after a Halliburton subsidiary was awarded large contracts related to the Iraq war.

Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, secured several logistics contracts to support U.S. forces in Iraq. ———————-

At the end of February, Halliburton directors announced that they would spin KBR off into an independent company.

Divesting

The University chapter of SDS has been petitioning in the Diag this week to collect signatures asking students to demand that the University divest from these companies. Smith said they have collected several hundred signatures from University students, staff and faculty members. The next step is today’s regents meeting.

“We are coming together around the theme of accountability,” Smith said. “We want to hold the leaders accountable to us and accountable to their mission of using the University to help foster a better future.”

The University has divested from companies twice before for ethical reasons. In 2000, the University divested from tobacco companies. In 1988, it divested from apartheid South Africa. Both moves came after a prolonged public debate on campus. Divestment from tobacco companies was supported by resolutions from the Michigan Student Assembly and the Faculty Senate.

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