Press Release: Public Filings Reveal Harvard’s Endowment Invested in Gun Manufacturers

PUBLIC FILINGS REVEAL HARVARD’S ENDOWMENT INVESTED IN GUN MANUFACTURERS

Students expect new Vice President for Sustainable Investment to further investigate and recommend divestment decisions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Contact: Nicole Granath, ngranath@college.harvard.edu

The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, a student and alumni advocacy organization, released US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings this morning showing that Harvard University’s endowment is invested in gun manufacturers.

“Given the tragedy in Newtown and the fatal shooting on campus four years ago, Harvard’s failure to address these holdings is shocking. Stopping gun violence should be a critical concern for the university, and severing financial ties with these companies is a good first step,” Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition Investments Coordinator and Harvard College freshman Kevin Wang said.

The announcement follows a recent decision by the Harvard Management Company, which manages the university’s $30.7 endowment, to hire a Vice President for Sustainable Investment, who will be charged with analyzing the environmental, social, and governance impacts of the university’s investments.

“We expect the Vice President for Sustainable Investment to further investigate Harvard’s holdings and recommend appropriate divestment decisions,” Harvard security guard and Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition member Aryt Alasti said. “There should be attention to this matter from the first day on the job.”

The student-led investigation of public SEC filings found that the endowment is invested in the firearms company Smith & Wesson through the exchange-traded iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund. (1) (2) Harvard also invests in several funds managed by The Vanguard Group, which is Smith & Wesson’s largest shareholder. (1)

The $244 billion California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS) recently divested from index funds containing Smith & Wesson and other firearms manufacturers. The CALPERS decision was preceded one month earlier by similar action by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. (4)

“Teacher unions and state pension funds divested because they recognize that firearms manufacturers threaten our schools and communities,” Harvard College sophomore Camilla Gibson said. “Harvard should follow their lead and cut their ties to Smith & Wesson and all other firearms manufacturers.”

Sources:

(1) Harvard SEC Filings: http://www.secinfo.com/d14D5a.x1D1b.htm
(2) IShares Russell 2000 Index Fund: http://us.ishares.com/product_info/fund/holdings/IWM.htm
(3) “Vanguard says social concerns will not affect gunmaker holdings.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/usa-shooting-connecticut-vanguard-idUSL1E8NIBWF20121218
(4) CALSTRS Announcement: http://www.calstrs.com/statement/calstrs-statement-its-decision-divest-certain-firearms-holdings

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