canada africa partner reservation A University of California official says the system has $32 billion in assets that have been targeted by protesters

A University of California official says the system has $32 billion in assets that have been targeted by protesters

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Investments in weapons manufacturers and a wide range of other companies by the University of California, targeted by students protesting the war between Israel and Hamas, represent $32 billion — or nearly a fifth — of the total assets of the system. says the system’s Chief Investment Officer.

UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher announced the estimate Tuesday during the first public meeting of the Board of Regents since nationwide pro-Palestinian student protests began in April. The calculation was in response to a letter he received last month from the UC Divest Coalition, which is scrutinizing the system’s total $175 billion in assets.

The group asked for the system to end its investments in weapons manufacturers, investment firms Blackstone and BlackRock, and 20 companies in the entertainment, technology and beverage industries.

Bachher said this would apply to investments including: $3.3 billion in assets of groups linked to arms manufacturers; $12 billion in U.S. Treasury securities; $163 million in the investment company BlackRock and $2.1 billion in bonds that BlackRock manages; $8.6 billion from Blackstone and $3.2 billion from the other 24 companies.

“We pride ourselves on a culture of transparency,” Bachher said, adding that it is important to listen to and engage with students.

The University of California system said last month it would not boycott or divest from Israel, and the regents indicated no change in position at this week’s meetings.

In 1986, the regents voted to divest $3.1 billion from companies that did business with South Africa’s apartheid government, after more than a year of student protests. The system also dropped its investments fossil fuels in 2020.

For weeks, students have been protesting on campuses across the country and setting up encampments at their universities, calling on them to be more transparent about their investments and divest from companies that financially support Israel. The demonstrations have led to disruptions, arrests And debates about freedom of expression. Tensions between protesters, law enforcement and administration at the University of California, Los Angeleshave received the most attention.

The protests stem from the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict that began on October 7 when Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 250 hostages. Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled area, including about two-thirds women and children, according to the Health Ministry. Israeli attacks have destroyed the enclave and displaced most of Gaza’s residents.

In a letter to The Associated Press from the UC president’s office, the UC Divest Coalition — which is made up of anti-war student advocates on UC campuses — asked the university system to suspend all investments in “companies that perpetuate war or weapons production ‘ to end. , including companies that provide economic support to the State of Israel, thereby perpetuating the ongoing occupation and genocide of the Palestinian people.”

“Investing in weapons production is contrary to the values ​​expressed by the UC and the moral concerns of the students, workers and faculty the regents represent,” the letter said.

The United Nations Supreme Court ruled in January that Israel must do everything it can to prevent genocide in Gaza, but did not order an end to Israel’s military activities in the territories. The ruling was in response to a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in violation of international law. Israel has denied committing genocide.

The coalition did not immediately respond to email and social media requests for comment on the letter and its $32 billion estimate.

During a meeting that lasted nearly two and a half hours Tuesday, some students and faculty members called for the system to divest from groups linked to Israel, some faculty members expressed concerns about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on campus, and regents asked members of the investment committee what it would mean to divest.

Holly Yu, an ethnic studies student at the University of California, Merced, urged officials to recognize that students are “expected to continue our daily lives” as the death toll in Gaza rises.

“Please listen to the voices of your students and stand in solidarity with us by immediately divesting,” Yu said.

Regents said the question of what it would mean to divest has no clear answer.

“We need to be able to make it clear to our students who are demanding divestment why it is not that simple,” Regent Jose M. Hernandez said. “It’s not just a matter of selling a coupon and saying, ‘Okay, we don’t want this, so we’re going to invest in another company.'”

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Austin is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on social platform X: @sophieadanna