A group of University of Florida students staged a 13-day hunger strike calling for the creation of a committee that would advise the university's board of trustees on socially responsible investing practices for the school's $1.2 billion endowment.
The strike, organized by the Gainesville, Fla., chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, took place last month, said SDS member Kevin Hachey, a UF junior. The group has been lobbying the board for more than a year to divest endowment assets from companies that profit off war, environmental destruction and human rights abuses.
The trustees adopted an SRI policy last September that allows the board to reconsider investments in corporations that could cause social injury.
Mr. Hachey said the UF SDS chapter believes the university's policy to be totally inadequate. As a result, the group has conducted rallies and sit-ins and finally, the hunger strike. About 18 students participated in the strike at some level, he said.
In a letter from Board of Trustee's Chairwoman Dianna Morgan to one of the protesters, Ms. Morgan said the board appreciated the students' efforts. We wholeheartedly agree that there are certain circumstances in which UF should evaluate its investments.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said via e-mail: The safety of our students is of paramount importance. Student Affairs officials met with the students several times.Jennifer Byrd