Two student representatives from the Boston University Board of Trustees advisory committee consulted the BU Student Government Senate at their Monday meeting about diverting BU investments from civilian gun manufacturers.
The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing will vote on Friday on a proposal to divest and/or prohibit future direct investments in civilian gun manufacturers until the reinstatement of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
“Our role in this committee is to advise on social issues which we think should guide our investment policy, on issues where social, moral and political concerns trump financial issues,” said CSRI student representative Aditya Rudra, a School of Management senior.
CSRI student representative Garrett Moore, a College of Engineering junior, said this issue had come to the Board of Trustees’ attention due to the increase in school shootings over the past five years.
Whether BU alone divests from civilian gun manufacturers will not have a profound impact on the weapons market, but it would serve a symbolic purpose, as well as potentially create political momentum by influencing other universities, Moore said.
“According to President Brown, this has been discussed and hotly debated amongst administrations of nearby schools, including Harvard and Brown University,” he said.
Moore said BU could not divulge how much money it currently invests in gun manufacturers due to a conflict of interests, but that would be made known in the future by third party analysis.
Though the committee’s decision will not bind the university, it will have considerable influence, Moore said.
“Technically, it is a recommendation,” he said. “At the same time, it is highly valued. Because you have such a diverse representation on this committee… the voice of the committee is well regarded.”
Rudra said that in the absence of a survey of the entire student body, the results of the unofficial Senate vote helped provide insight on student opinion.
“I think students feel willing, at least the majority do, to take a political stance and say there should be a moral component to our investment philosophy,” Rudra said.
Claire Richer, a College of Arts and Science junior, said the university could make a huge statement by divesting from gun manufacturers.
“Anybody and everybody can denounce and feel horrible about the deaths that have happened across the United States, especially in these past five years, but there’s a difference between saying that and doing something, even if it’s symbolic,” Richer said.
SG Senators had varying views on whether it was the place of the Senate to endorse the proposal.
CAS Sophomore Class President Tyler Fields said though he feels senators could help the committee gauge student opinion, he does not believe SG should not take an official position on the proposal.
“Regardless of the right or the left’s position on this particular issue, I don’t believe that Student Government is the proper platform to be voicing activist views,” Fields said. “There are groups dedicated to such issues that can go out and make the petitions, find the support.”
SG Department of Recruitment Director Chris Addis said that taking a stance on this issue went beyond politics and meant embodying BU’s values as an institution.
“At a deep level, it’s a question of our mission statement – learning, virtue and piety – and a discussion on virtue. BU should be a champion of those three simple words,” said Addis, a senior in CAS. “It is certainly involved in politics, but we can try our best to look beyond politics when we’re discussing these things.”
The Senate did not vote on the proposal at the Monday evening meeting because, for the first time this year, it did not meet quorum.