Student groups speak against our investments

From Greensboro to Palestine, Guilford College has money invested in all types of companies. For student and alumni groups Integrity for Guilford and Guilfordians for Justice, it is important to know how ethical these investments are.

For this reason, on Oct. 1, students gathered for an eight-hour convening on divestment and investment at the New Garden Friends Meeting. Specifically, organizers wanted to talk about prison divestment campaigns, divesting from occupation in Palestine, inclusive financial solutions and ethical reinvestment.

First, there was a panel to introduce the workshop leaders and discuss their commitment to divestment.

“Our hope was to bring in these other voices,” said event organizer and Guilfordians for Justice member Samir Hazboun ’14.

The opening panel also introduced the three things Guilfordians for Justice hopes Guilford will divest from: fossil fuels, the prison industrial complex and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“I’m really excited to be thinking about the divestment side of fossil fuels, (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement) and the prison industrial complex,” said senior Davia Young. “I’m really interested in what are some tangible reinvestment strategies and what are some tangible steps moving forward that can kind of go hand in hand.”

The panelists also discussed how to reinvest in renewable energy, black communities and Palestine.

“We actually want to be reinvesting,” said Hazboun. “Divesting and investing is not a radical concept. It has been done before.”

In the afternoon, students broke out into panels to talk about reinvestment at Guilford.

“People helped me when I was in school,” said Elandria Williams, workshop leader, co-coordinator of the education team at the Highlander Research and Education Center and member of the organizational leadership team. “The thing I can do is help other people while they’re in school.

“That’s one reason why I’m here.”

Williams led a workshop around helping students, alumni and parents figure out what could work for reinvestment.

“It’s extremely important (to) have a long-term strategy,” said Noah McDonald ’16. “Whenever we’re in a communal space like this, it’s a big deal, and we have to strategize together.”

Co-Managing Director of the Fund for Democratic Communities Ed Whitfield, another workshop leader, led a later session where students, alumni and parents talked about the history of oppression and how to re-evaluate commonly held opinions.

“I always like to be back with folks who are changing the world because it needs to be changed,” said Whitfield.

Students and community members attended the event to learn more and to build a community.

“I’ve grown up in a very politically active family, but I feel like I’ve just touched the surface of topics, and I want to dig deeper,” said CCE student and Friends Center intern Emma Graham.

“(I’ve also been) living a life for the past five and a half years that was not meeting my needs spiritually and politically. (I was) surrounded by white people who are just so full of privilege and can’t acknowledge the trouble in this world. That’s why I’m here.”

Others want to build off of past divestment work and hear from speakers.

“I think the success stories of divestment get erased,” said senior Phoebe Hogue-Rodley.

Most important for the organizers is for Guilford to divest from fossil fuels, prisons and the Israeli occupation all at once.

To learn more, reach out to Guilfordians for Justice or come to an Integrity for Guilford meeting Sunday nights at 8 p.m. in the Multicultural Education Center.