California State University System Holds Minimal Indirect Investments in Israel, Plans No Changes Despite Calls for Divestment


The California State University (CSU) System recently disclosed that it holds minimal indirect investments in companies based in Israel through mutual funds, sparking a debate over its investment practices. Despite calls from pro-Palestinian faculty members and students for divestment, CSU officials have indicated they do not plan to alter their investment approach.

California State University System Holds Minimal Indirect Investments in Israel, Plans No Changes Despite Calls for Divestment


Indirect Holdings and Investment Policies

CSU officials presented a report on system investments during a recent Board of Trustees meeting, revealing that while the system does not have direct ownership of stocks or bonds in Israeli companies, it does have minimal indirect holdings through mutual funds. These investments were reported to amount to approximately $3.2 million, constituting about 0.04 percent of CSU's total investments.

System administrators clarified that CSU's investments and those made by auxiliaries, nonprofits that provide support and services on campuses, are legally distinct and not bound by CSU investment policies. This distinction allows the system to maintain its stance on investments despite pressure for divestment.

READ MORE: Sonoma State University President Mike Lee Retires Following Controversial Deal With Pro-Palestinian Protesters And CSU Rebuke 

Transparency and Legal Considerations

The disclosure of CSU's investments in Israel came alongside the launch of a new financial transparency portal and a FAQ webpage on the system's website. The FAQ webpage addresses concerns regarding the investments, stating, "California State University does not materially invest in Israel-related stocks; there is no need to divest from positions that we do not own."

CSU's leaders emphasized that the system does not intend to alter its existing investment policies related to Israel. They argued that since the system does not materially invest in Israel-related stocks, there is no need for divestment. This stance aligns with legal considerations, as the FAQ explains that the CSU's investments and those of its auxiliaries are legally distinct entities, allowing them to maintain investments in Israel through mutual funds.

Calls for Divestment and Campus Responses

Despite the system's stance, individual CSU campuses have faced calls for divestment from pro-Palestinian groups. In response, Sacramento State University recently established a "policy on socially responsible investments," committing to not having direct investments in corporations and funds that profit from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and activities that violate fundamental human rights.

The policy includes the university and its auxiliaries, such as the University Foundation at Sacramento State. This move reflects a broader trend on campuses where student and faculty groups are increasingly calling for universities to align their investment practices with ethical and moral considerations.

Controversy and Future Directions

The issue of investment in Israel has sparked controversy within the CSU system. Sonoma State University President Mike Lee recently retired following a deal with pro-Palestinian protesters on campus. The agreement involved a thorough examination of the university's investments and the development of strategies to divest in an ethically responsible manner.

The retirement of President Lee came after he was placed on administrative leave regarding a campus-wide email he sent about the concessions. This development highlights the challenges faced by university leaders in balancing financial considerations with social and political pressures regarding investments.

The disclosure of California State University's indirect investments in Israel has sparked a debate over the system's investment practices. While CSU officials maintain that they do not plan to alter their investment approach, calls for divestment from pro-Palestinian groups continue. The controversy underscores the complex considerations universities face in managing their investments while upholding their values and responding to societal pressures.

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