Micah Herskind ’19, second from left, and other students lead a pro-divestment rally after walking out of a CPUC meeting.
Ethan Sterenfeld ’20
Eisgruber: Princeton Has No Private-Prison Holdings

A student advocacy group vowed to continue its call for the University to adopt a policy of divesting from private prisons and immigrant detention centers, despite a statement from President Eisgruber ’83 that Princeton does not hold investments in for-profit prisons and has no intention of doing so.

More than 100 members of Princeton Private Prison Divest walked out of a March 27 CPUC meeting in the Friend Center after Professor Michael Littman, chair of the University’s Resources Committee, said the group had not met the standards necessary for the issue to be presented to the Board of Trustees. University guidelines for divestiture state that there should be “considerable thoughtful and sustained interest, direct and serious contradiction with a central University value, and consensus on how the University should respond to the situation, considering the magnitude, scope, and representativeness of the expressions of campus opinion,” Littman said. 

The Resources Committee will meet at least twice more before the end of the semester, and University officials said they hoped the students would continue to discuss their proposal with the committee. Daniel Teehan ’17, a spokesman for the divestment group, said members planned to continue to press for action by the trustees. “By the University’s own articulated standards, divestment is not just about currently held investments. It is about definitively ending all forms of association with industries whose practices conflict with University values,” Teehan said. “Until the administration formally undergoes this process ... they will not have divested or dissociated in a meaningful sense.”

Group members maintained that there is a consensus among corrections experts on the negative impact of private prisons and in the Princeton community in favor of divestment. The group cited student referendums in which 89 percent of undergraduates and 85 percent of graduate students who cast votes supported divestment. In addition, petitions supporting divestment were signed by more than 175 faculty members and more than 500 alumni.

Students said they had been asking the University for more than a year to disclose whether it had invested in 11 companies. In stating at the CPUC meeting that Princeton had not invested in any of the companies, Eisgruber noted that University normally does not report on its investment holdings. A University spokesman said the announcement came in part because an opinion column in The Daily Princetonian the day of the meeting had said the University currently holds such investments.