The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Op-ed: The case for disclosure

Lafayette College’s endowment is over $1 billion in size, and its students have no idea where that money is going. The college is deliberately opaque regarding its investments, but information from public sources shows something alarming. There is an all too high probability that Lafayette College invests in companies and governments that profit from not only Israel’s genocide in Gaza, but also fossil fuel producers, general weapons manufacturers and China during its internment of millions of Uyghur Muslims and Russia during its war on Ukraine. If Lafayette does invest or lend money to these companies and governments, it would contradict not only its drafted mission and values, but also why many students chose to enroll here in the first place.

Lafayette College does not manage its investments directly. Instead, the majority of endowment management is done by external professional managers in large mutual funds. This is done both to save money and to engage in diverse and high-speed trading in ways that would be difficult for Lafayette’s relatively small Investment Office. We do not know the specific funds Lafayette College invests in, but my research produced the names of some managers. One manager, PIMCO, specializes in bonds. If PIMCO buys a bond directly from an issuer, that means PIMCO (and sometimes by extension Lafayette), is lending money to the company or government that sells the bond. Here are some of PIMCO’S bond holdings I found while looking through their Dec. 31, 2023 disclosure reports (all amounts are described in terms of principal value):

Over $265 million in Israeli government bonds, over $816.3 million in corporate bonds from the IDF’s weapons suppliers and some of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers, over $2 billion and $703 million in Russian and Chinese bonds respectively — both of which contribute to the manufacturing of weapons used by Hamas — over $1.4 billion in fossil fuel producers’ corporate bonds and about $3 million in Texas state bonds (Texas monetarily encourages private citizens to take legal action against those assisting with and performing abortions). While PIMCO has billions in total holdings and Lafayette’s investment is likely just a small drop in the bucket, PIMCO itself is just one of the many fund managers to which Lafayette entrusts its endowment.

Divestment by itself will not fundamentally change these governments’ or companies’ practices. Still, Lafayette College students should be able to study and live at an institution that is consistent with its stated values and priorities, not fear that they are funding (even if indirectly) domestic and international injustice. Disclosure is not just an issue that concerns those who desire Palestinian liberation. All civically minded students who care about Palestinians, Ukrainians and all lives who are impacted by global war, climate change and reproductive injustice should care about where our money is going. Join the call for Lafayette’s financial disclosure.

Lafayette: Disclose where our money goes. Divest from any mutual funds and bonds that finance Israel’s genocidal campaign in Palestine or any other global injustice. Divest from any mutual funds and bonds that threaten your mission to be a “thoughtful [member] of the global community” and betray your value of “responsible citizenship.”*

*These quotes are taken directly from Lafayette’s drafted mission statement and values.

Travis King ’24 is an economics student and a member of the Pards 4 Palestine coalition.

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  • T

    Tom SkinnerMay 5, 2024 at 4:48 pm

    I am confused that this student labels the endowment “our money”. Endowments have been accumulated over the decades by the generosity of donors (many of them Jewish) and grown by the skill of investment managers (many of them Jewish) through their investments in successful businesses (many of them run or founded by Jews). These endowments are used to subsidize students and faculty (many of whom, perhaps unwittingly, align themselves with regimes that are in conflict with core western values).

    • S

      Small Donor/PeasantMay 5, 2024 at 10:46 pm

      This comment is deeply anti-Semitic for several reasons (conflation of Judaism and Zionism, playing on the Jewish money trope) but that aside, would you say land theft and mass murder of women and children are core western values, Mr. Skinner?