Harvard Students Sue School Over Investments in Prison Industrial Complex

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Feb 21, 2020

Last year, five Harvard University students asked President Larry Bacow to divest the school’s $40 billion endowment from companies and industries that fuel mass incarceration. Now, they are suing the school to make sure that happens, CNN reported on February 21. The students are part of the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign (HPDC), whose mission is to get Harvard to break up with the prison industry. 

Xitlalli Alvarez Almendariz, Ismail Buffins, Amanda Chan, Jarrett Drake and Anna Nathanson—all graduate students, three of whom had family members who have experienced incarceration, as reported by Colorlines last September—plan to represent themselves during the requested trial by jury, according to CNN

"Our educations should not be funded by how many bullets the police buy. Our educations should not be funded by how many Tasers are put into our children’s schools. Our educations should not be funded by people selling their blood just to stay out of jail and on probation," Chan told CNN. "We are taking a stand to the University and making them answer for their profiteering. This is Harvard’s chance to be on the right side of history."

In addition to the divestment, HPDC wants Harvard to publish a report assessing the risk of Harvard’s investments tied to the prison industry. "We want to create an historical record of what’s going on with Harvard’s racist investment policies," Nathanson agreed. "So much of prisons are hidden out of sight. If people understood what’s going on in prisons it would shock anyone’s conscience."