Frequently Asked Questions
What is divestment?
- Divestment is the opposite of investment. It is the process of selling financial assets (such as stocks, bonds, endowments, and mutual funds) for financial, ethical, and/or social reasons. OSU currently invests in companies with unethical practices, and we are calling for the withdrawal of these investments for ethical and humanitarian reasons.
- Divestment does not cut off all relations with a corporation—it only means that we will no longer invest in them. The claim that OSU will lose business because of divestment is entirely fabricated to scare students into voting no, and the opposition has provided no evidence for this claim. Over 30 American universities have passed divestment resolutions, and there is no evidence of backlash from targeted companies in any of these cases. There is no evidence of hiring discrimination by these companies against students from universities that have divested from them in the past.
- We support divestment from a position of solidarity. The students working on this campaign know that our struggles are not the same, but we strive to understand and support each other—we are stronger together. We all support ethical investment, and are concerned that our university is profiting from violence. As part of the Ohio State community, we call on our fellow Buckeyes to stand for justice and equality.
- The corporations named in our initiative are listed in the last report of OSU’s investments released by the Office of Investments in 2009. The university has declined to provide any more recent information about its investments. Due to the high profitability of investing in these companies, it is likely that the university is still invested in them. However, to account for the possibility that it is not, the initiative asks that OSU "cease and/or prohibit" investments. The complete initiative can be read here. Voting yes to divest means that you are asking the university to divest from these companies if we are invested, and to refrain from investing in them in the future if we are not.
- Divestment is a nonviolent, legal, and non-disruptive way to express support for human rights and compliance with international law, two things we believe should not be controversial at all.
If we stop using private prisons, won’t public prisons be overcrowded?
- No. A recent Department of Justice review found private prisons improperly putting inmates in Special Housing Units (SHU), generally reserved for disciplinary or safety uses, due to lack of bed space. (source) Additionally, Private prisons lobby for laws that put more people in jail. The ACLU writes that private prison companies and individuals associated with them attempt to gain influence, contracts, and additional inmates through the “use of questionable financial incentives; benefitting from the 'revolving door' between public and private corrections; extensive lobbying; lavish campaign contributions; and efforts to control information." (source) By divesting from private prison corporations we are supporting the ability of our lawmakers to advocate for restorative justice rather than mass incarceration.
- “Mass incarceration” is the imprisonment of many people, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects people of color. The United States puts more people in jail than any other nation in the world. (source) While only 5% of the world’s population resides in the U.S., our nation holds over 20% of the world’s prisoners. (source) More than half of all incarcerated people in the United States have been convicted of nonviolent crimes. (source)
- No. Inmates held at private prisons are actually more likely to return to jail than those held in public prisons. (source) Because the primary motivation of private prison corporation is profit, they have little incentive to devote resources to education and rehabilitation.(source) These corporations also lobby for laws and policies that increase the number of people coming into prisons. (source)
Are you boycotting Israel?
- No, we want to divest from companies that provide surveillance and military technology that is used to violate the human rights of Palestinians. The corporations we want to divest from are American and British, not Israeli.
- The existence of injustice and repression all around the world does not excuse human rights violations in any particular place. As students of the Ohio State University, we do not want our tuition dollars to be invested in companies that violate human rights anywhere, including the occupied Palestinian territories and American prisons.
- OSU Divest: Buckeyes for Human Rights does not endorse any particular solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—or to mass incarceration. We are a coalition of students, faculty and staff with a variety of opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The belief we share is that we do not want our university to invest in these companies because of their unethical practices.
- Recently signed into law, Ohio HB 476 created stipulations regarding which companies the Ohio state government may enter into a contract with. To put this into perspective, if Caterpillar responds to international pressure and refuses to provide weaponized bulldozers to the state of Israel, then the state of Ohio will not enter a contract with Caterpillar regarding, for example, repairing our highways. The Ohio State University is not a company, it is a public nonprofit institution and does not provide any contracting services to anyone (neither the state of Israel or Ohio). Therefore, this legislation is irrelevant to our initiative. This initiative is simply a call to stop investing in companies that are complicit in human rights violations, not even to refuse to do business with them.