Campus, Long Beach, News

Cal State Long Beach student government adopts new investing policy

ASI senate members voted in favor of adopting Senate Resolution 2016-11, which advocates humanitarian and environmentally friendly investing practices, at tonight’s meeting.

The Socially Responsible Investing resolution is a suggested investing policy from ASI to the 49er Foundation in regard to the corporations in which it invests.

The 49er Foundation is in charge of all private donations given to Cal State Long Beach. It also manages all grants, contracts, philanthropic money and endowments.

According to the 49er Foundation website, the foundation provides “essential fundraising and financial-management services that benefit the entire university … the foundation relies on a mix of revenue sources including investment earnings.”

The resolution focuses on investing in companies that do not harm the environment or violate human rights.

The human rights portion of the resolution is what some students, ASI members and faculty found concerning.

In its original wording, the section on human rights reads:

” … the exploitation of historically marginalized people or the abuse of human rights may demonstrate an acceptance of these actions; and groups such as, but not limited to: children, women, the African American community, the Palestinian people, the Native American community, the Latinx community, the Muslim community, the Jewish community, the LGBTIQ+ community and the disabled community have been historically marginalized … ”

For some in the CSULB community, listing certain groups as “historically marginalized” and not others was concerning.

The resolution was discussed at last week’s meeting, but voting on it was tabled.

Senior communication major Tali Shaddaie was one of five students who spoke out against the Socially Responsible Investing policy resolution at last week’s meeting.

In an email, Shaddaie said that including the phrase “groups such as, but not limited to” shows preference for certain minority and marginalized groups.

During last week’s ASI meeting, the resolution’s author, Senator Yasmin Elasmar, and her supporters argued that the listing of certain groups was to simply provide a starting point when it comes to looking at corporations’ interactions with marginalized communities.

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Elasmar and other senate members also argued that the groups listed were the people most discriminated against historically.

However, Shaddaie said that this list is subjective.

“Is [the example list] implying that other groups’ struggles don’t have equal impact just because they are more in the minority?” Shaddaie said. “How about the thousands of Christians in the Middle East who are being slaughtered because of their religion? Is that not as impacting just because it isn’t highlighted in the media?”

During yesterday’s meeting, Jeffrey Blutinger, associate faculty member for Jewish Studies, also spoke against the proposed resolution. He said that the term “such as” can be interpreted differently by different people.

“People look at restrictive language and apply it in restrictive ways, even if it wasn’t meant to be,” Blutinger said.

Before the ASI Senate voted on the resolution, Senator Elasmar submitted some amendments and word revisions.

The section on human rights now reads:

“In the past corporations have directly and indirectly exploited and marginalized groups such as, but not limited to; children, women, the African American community, the Palestinian people, the Native American community, the Latinx community, the Muslim community, the Jewish community, the LGBTIQ+ community, and the disabled community and in some cases continue to do so today … ”

While discussing the resolution, Senator Christian Salazar said the listing does make a statement about certain groups of people. He also said he didn’t like that it could be misinterpreted.

Senator Kelsey Kimmes also expressed concern about the language of the resolution.  

“Whether we like it or not, this is a statement,” Kimmes said. “This isn’t the place to make political statements about certain groups; this resolution is about investment and being responsible with that.”

After a few minutes of discussion on the revised language, the resolution was passed. All senators present voted in favor except for two who abstained from voting.

“I think that if we want to talk about human rights, there shouldn’t be a list of examples,” said Shaddaie. “ … It’s human rights — everyone deserves it equally.”

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