Cal Poly Humboldt Responds to Protesters

"There will be consequences for actions that violate policy or law."

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On Friday morning, Cal Poly Humboldt responded to protester demands and shared their message with faculty, staff, and students.

Redwood News obtained a copy of the response:

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CAL POLY HUMBOLDT ALERT – The following was shared yesterday during a conversation with student protestors.

This is an initial response intending to make a good faith effort to respond, and is meant to lead to additional dialogue.

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The Cal Poly Humboldt pro-Palestine protests have elevated a remarkable number of important questions, opened a space for difficult, meaningful conversations, and also raised concerns about what principles of the community we bring into spaces of disagreement. Even in the midst of this challenging period for our community, we remain firmly rooted in our University’s purpose: to provide the highest quality and affordable college education built on the contributions of diverse students, staff, and faculty who are committed to a just and sustainable world.

We write today in this spirit, while also reasserting our responsibility for civil discourse and fact-based debate. In particular, we would like to provide context and feedback to the stated demands of the protesters. They have asked the campus to:

1. Disclose all holdings and collaborations with Israel.

It is important to highlight that Cal Poly Humboldt is among the higher education leaders in environmentally and socially responsible investing. In 2014, with extensive student involvement, an investment strategy focused on reducing investments in the fossil fuel industry and in tracking investments in socially concerning sectors was adopted. Last year, again with student involvement and assistance, a new policy focused on Environmentally & Socially Responsible (ESR) investing was adopted. This policy takes a “positive investment” approach to select funds with strong environmental, social, and governance practices, and again puts Humboldt at the leading edge of responsible investing within higher education.

The investments in the University’s endowment does not include any direct investment in defense companies or any securities issued by Israeli companies or organizations, or to defense firms. In fact, because of the relatively small size of the endowment, the investment strategy does not include direct investment in any specific companies or securities. Instead, the portion of the investment in securities is in mutual funds, which are bundles of many securities that reflect the portfolios of numerous different investment managers.

So any holdings of the securities in question would represent indirect investment. Our estimates put the potential indirect investment in the areas that are asked about at less than 1% of the investment portfolio of more than $51 million. Of this, our estimate of potential defense investment is less than 0.5% of the entire portfolio, though that can fluctuate over time. This estimate is probably high as these companies do not produce weaponry but rather components of various industrial products (like wind turbines and aviation parts). The portion of the indirect investment in Israeli companies or organizations is likewise less than 0.5%, and can fluctuate over time. These securities, which again are bundled in different mutual funds, are software companies and banks, and there is also less than 0.1% in bonds. Any of these holdings could be sold by the fund manager at any time.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the investment policies in the future.

2. Cut all ties with Israeli universities.

Cal Poly Humboldt has a commitment to global engagement. While we have no current ties with Israeli Universities, we are open to connecting with universities across the world in an effort to build connections and expand understanding. The Cal Poly Humboldt catalog listing for a study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel is a California State University International Study Abroad (CSU IP) program, not a Cal Poly Humboldt program. The CSU IP Haifa program is not currently enrolling students. Current Bilateral Exchange Programs with Cal Poly Humboldt are listed online.

Information about agreements with other universities is also available on campus websites or with an email to the Dean of Extended Education & Global Engagement. We encourage our students to speak and engage with faculty as well as campus administrators. Our doors are always open to our students.

3. Divest from companies and corporations complicit in the occupation of Palestine:

Please see the investment information in #1. We do not have a way of measuring the specific language included in this request.

4. Drop charges against and halt the harassment of student organizers by law enforcement.

University policy and conduct violations will follow established procedures, and there will be consequences for actions that violate policy or law. However, students who elect to evacuate the building and support efforts to clear the building will have their actions considered as a mitigating factor within those processes.

5. University to publicly call for a ceasefire and end to the occupation of Palestine.

Cal Poly Humboldt is committed to social justice and the Graduation Pledge to guide everyone’s social and environmental consequences of their decisions. We are supportive of a peaceful and just world which affords the opportunity for all human beings to flourish and achieve their potential.

6. “We want the university to either amend or remove the time, manner or place clause [of its free expression policy] which allows them to call the police on students for organizing in ways that they deem inappropriate.” (Link)

The University’s Time, Place and Manner (TPM) policy exists to protect the rights of the entire campus community to a secure environment that is conducive to the pursuit of knowledge, freedom of inquiry, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The policy is content-neutral in its approach to speech and assembly, protecting our freedoms while also ensuring that the rights of the rest of the campus community to a safe and secure environment are protected. Part of protecting our rights is protecting the health and safety of persons, and the security of property, for which uniformed police officers may be required.