LMU should promise a gun-free investment portfolio |

There are only 31 countries in the world with a higher gun violence death rate than the United States, and the population most at risk of gun violence are people under the age of 30, including children. , students and young adults. With the recent tragedies of gun violence in the Asian and Pacific Islander American (AAPI) community and in Boulder, Colorado, the urgency of this problem can hardly be overstated. Moreover, when taken in the historical context of all the gun violence motivated by homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and racism, the threat becomes more than a concern for the safety of the students.

The federal government knows this. The Biden administration on Wednesday (April 7) announced a six-step plan to tackle the “epidemic” of gun violence in the United States. community response and federal reporting.

But is the education system in the know? As the debate over gun violence has intensified over the past decade, education system funding of the gun industry has been rightly criticized by students and teachers across the country.

Driven by the Sandy Hooks shooting, the CalSTRS (California State Teachers’ Retirement Fund) announced in 2013 its intention to divest itself of illegal gun manufacturers in the state of California. In 2014, the board of directors of the privately-owned Occidental College (a private school) made the decision not to invest in companies that make military-style assault weapons. Yale University, another private school, made a similar decision in 2018.

However, most schools have remained silent, failing to disclose their investments. Following a shooting near the UCSB campus in 2014, students prepared a petition demanding that the board review whether they are funding opposition to common sense gun laws. An article published by the Columbia University student newspaper called on the board to stand in solidarity with those who have suffered gun violence across the country, hoping that divestment from investment management groups like Vanguard and BlackRock would incite Harvard and Boston University. Do the same thing.

Looking at LMU’s financial reports, it’s not clear whether LMU is investing in gun manufacturers or not. The problem with LMU’s investment survey is that students have no idea what’s in the university’s $ 159,785,000 mutual fund. As a private school, LMU does not need to disclose its investments, as many may know from following the story on Divest LMU. LMU publishes annual PRI transparency reports in accordance with its RI (responsible investment) policy; however, many sections are not accessible to the public.

Cameron Addis, a major junior in marketing, said gun stocks have become more profitable recently. This may be because gun stocks often increase as a result of mass shootings and calls for gun control, as gun owners fear it will become more difficult to control. buy guns. Does LMU even know where its investments are going? Addis also said universities “should know what they’re invested in, even if it’s in a fund, because at the end of the day they’re funding these businesses, whether it’s guns, tobacco , etc.

What is accessible, however, is LMU’s Teachers’ Pension Plan, backed by TransAmerica Life Insurance. According to their website, TransAmerica’s portfolio holdings include a very small percentage of Olin Corporation (a “leading US manufacturer of ammunition” and chemicals) as of February 28, 2021. Although CalSTRS has taken the initiative to maintain its wallet without guns, secondary investments in ammunition or retailers is a complex conversation that will require the involvement of students, teachers, administrators and investors in the pursuit of greater transparency.

Professor Dee Filecia, professor of political science and international relations at LMU, was kind enough to address some of the details that remain ambiguous for LMU students. Unable to talk about specific percentages or funds, Filecia said, “I can confirm that LMU uses an investor who works with ammunition manufacturers. As an institution that promotes social justice, it’s hard to imagine why the University would partner with an organization that allows violence. This is particularly upsetting given our current political and social conflicts. Since gun violence disproportionately targets marginalized communities, by partnering with TransAmerica, LMU is giving tacit endorsement for the blatant violence.

The extent of LMU’s relationship with TransAmerica is unclear and offers no insight into the school’s endowment, which is another fund. LMU may very well have no direct investment in guns, but if it does, then LMU should issue an official statement saying so, pledging to protect the lives of students and all communities made vulnerable to harm. gun violence. If LMU invests in any way in gun companies, then it should divest itself and disassociate itself from other companies that profit from violence. If it is too much to ask of a private school for this kind of transparency, then the privileges accorded to private universities must be reconfigured to better promote a more just future.

That’s the opinion of Kyle O’Gorman, a young theater and philosophy student from Santa Barbara, California. Tweet the comments @LALoyolan or email [email protected]

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