Universities: Divest from Militarized Violence at Home and Abroad

The militarization of our streets is a symptom of the violence of U.S. imperialism abroad. We must divest from the war machine and stop allowing companies to make a killing on killing!

As historic protests against police brutality began flooding the streets, we witnessed a nationwide call to defund and demilitarize the police. Since the 1990s, over $7 billion worth of military-grade weapons and equipment have been transferred from the Pentagon to local police forces, which means the same weapons used to kill civilians around the world have been turned against communities in the U.S.

Americans are experiencing first-hand the violence that the U.S. military regularly inflicts on people overseas. The U.S. weapons companies profiting from endless wars abroad are supplying military-grade weapons to police at home. To make matters worse, the weapons industry is also driving climate change—the U.S. war machine is the world’s #1 polluter. A green future liberated from militarized violence thus requires dismantling the war machine in all of its manifestations.

We need a transformation of American priorities away from the hyper-militarism we see in our streets and overseas. This transformation begins with moving our money so we don’t prop up the U.S. war machine, climate change, and police brutality.

Universities and other financial institutions often hold investments in weapons manufacturers, profiting from and providing financial support for militarized violence. It's time for universities to divest from weapons companies, policing and surveillance systems, and the militarization of our streets.

So long as universities invest in these companies, they are complicit in and profiting from police brutality and global terrorism. As student-funded institutions, it is morally imperative for universities to align their investment practices with student values—and we students are calling for our universities to take our money out of these violent companies. Through cutting ties with weapons manufacturers, universities can be leaders in progressive change by rejecting the influence of the war economy and reinvesting this money in ethical, life-affirming sectors that support our communities.

As students, we call for our universities to:

  1. Make no new investments in weapons producers. Universities should develop policies that exclude all financial links with weapons manufacturers. Investment makes production possible. This means that no exceptions should be made for any type of financial product or activity.
  2. Sell existing investments tied to these companies within 1-2 years. Universities should get rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are invested in weapons producers. New requests for investment should also be declined. Universities should apply their divestment policy to all their activities: commercial banking, investment banking, and asset management. All of these activities actively assist a company in the production of weapons.
  3. Reinvest in clean, life-affirming solutions such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, water efficiency, and more. When reinvesting assets, universities should make deliberate choices about how money is invested – and should make those choices represent values of sustainability, community empowerment, action on climate, establishment of a renewable energy economy, etc. The objectives of reinvestment can include increasing community empowerment and prosperity, shifting economic control, driving social equity, and promoting ecological well-being. The Future of Life Institute has compiled a list of weapons-free funds, which you can find here: https://futureoflife.org/invest/.

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