Date: May 8, 2013
Contact: Alexi White (617-413-5972, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cambridge, MA—In response to Harvard’s evasive response to the Chilean government’s lawsuit against university-owned Agrícola Brinzal, students will rally on the steps of Widener Library to demand answers from the Harvard administration.
Who: Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition; Responsible Endowments Coalition; Francisco Meneses, a Chilean student at Harvard’s Kennedy School
What: Rally demanding answers from Drew Faust, the President of Harvard University, regarding Chilean government lawsuit
When: Thursday, May 9 at 1:00 PM
Where: Steps of Widener Library in Harvard Yard
Chilean Court Case
A report from Chile’s Center for Investigative Journalism (CIPER) describes how the company has cleared large swaths of native forest and reforested with eucalyptus trees. The Ministry of Agriculture’s National Forestry Corporation has brought multiple lawsuits against Agrícola Brinzal for its illegal deforestation and reforestation practices. The company’s logging practices are not only illegal, they are also environmentally damaging to Chile’s forests and the local farming community.
Harvard owns 99.99% of Agrícola Brinzal through a wholly-owned subsidiary called the Phemus Corporation, which enjoys nonprofit tax status. According to Harvard’s tax filings, in 2010 the company generated more than half a million dollars in income for the Harvard endowment. This money was used to employ professors, fund scholarships, and otherwise support Harvard’s mission. This includes the Harvard Forest, a research center where experts investigate the destructive effects that habitat degradation and development can have on the environment and local communities.
Students Demand Answers
One week ago, on April 26th at 1pm, 35 students hand-delivered an invitation to President Faust’s office to explain Harvard’s investment in Agrícola Brinzal and demanding a plan to make investments more responsible.
The outcry from Harvard students and Chilean citizens comes after a series of ethically dubious investments from the Harvard Management Company. A growing group of students, faculty and staff are pressuring the university to change its investment principles. In April, 45 students gathered from across six graduate schools and the College to plan for future campaigns.