Students at Boston University learned this week that the gun violence that directly affects them, their friends, and their communities is not severe enough to warrant that the school divest from companies that profit from that destruction.
Right after the shooting massacre of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut — a town several current BU students call home — the university started an advisory committee for socially responsible investing and even invited three students to join. The recommendation to divest from gun manufacturers was the first proposal the advisory committee made. It was rejected by the trustees in December.
Here’s what you may not know: Many of our school endowments are invested in companies that make guns and ammunition and lobby against common-sense gun laws that would make us all safer. The profits from these investments may build a new wing of the university hospital to treat gunshot victims. Contributions alumni make could be indirectly paying for gun industry executives to meet with senators on Capitol Hill to convince them to vote NO on background checks for people who want to buy guns, just like they did after the Newtown shooting.
While our elected officials remain blinded by the gun lobby’s money and influence, our generation continues to be devastated by gun violence. In the 2 years since the massacre in Newtown, there have been over 100 school and university shootings. Every student knows what a lockdown drill feels like, and increasingly we have been through a live lockdown with an active shooter on our campus. This year, gun violence will replace car accidents as the leading cause of death for millennials. Cars are highly regulated. Guns, not so much.
Despite this disturbing trend, young Americans refuse to accept this violence as an inevitability: We’re standing up, speaking out and demanding action. On campuses across the country, divestment has become a powerful tool for students to push for meaningful change.
Boston University students are now calling on the university to reevaluate its decision, asking the trustees not “to be on the wrong side of history.” As editors from BU’s student-run newspaper, the Daily Free Press, wrote,
It’s upsetting that the board believes that generations to come would judge them more harshly for divesting from gun companies than for continuing to support them. There is a clear generation gap in a rapidly changing world — they can’t escape the social consequences of this decision.
No university should ever fund an industry that profits from violence against its students, as the gun industry does. The fight to end gun violence starts with us — with our friends, on our campuses. Our universities need to know that we won’t continue to be complicit in helping to perpetuate the violence killing our friends and classmates.
Get involved. Make a difference.