Sebastian Troitiño" />
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Wednesday, September 27, 2023


UH betrays minorities by indirectly investing in prisons

UH campus shot Justin T

Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

There is a bloody dichotomy between the University of Houston and the way they manifest their alleged appreciation and pride of minorities.

The Houston Press reported a group of graduate students learned last month that UH has millions of dollars invested in major corporations that invest those funds in private prisons.

Private prisons are a business, and their business model cultivates a toxic disservice to humanity.

The model is painfully simple: incarcerate as many people as possible, or, even worse, detain as many undocumented immigrants as possible. By breaking up families, breaking hearts and breaking the American code of morals and ethics, private prisons viciously gain the profit unwary minorities give.

The system is in dire need of comprehensive prison reform since sense escapes the current model.

Prisons see minorities as a unit to profit from, as if that’s the only value they have to offer to the system.

All public institutions hold funds they plan to use for investments in return for profit. The distribution of such funds and the results they bring are treated like any other hedge fund between an endowment management firm and the University’s Board of Regents.

The Provost has committees in place to oversee the many complexities that manage the University, one being the Hedge Fund Committee.

Even if the millions of dollars going to firms that invest in for-profit prisons are indirect and unintentional, the University’s most powerful leaders apparently don’t care.

This is where student leaders like College of Social Work graduate students Nakia Winfield and Julia Kramp stand up for justice to put a stop to mass incarceration in any way they can.

“We came to this University because we believe in its values — its academic rigor, its values and standard of excellence,” Winfield said. “Just as the University holds us to a high standard, we too hold our institution to high standards as well.”

Winfield and Kramp launched a Banking on Bondage petition that urges UH to divest from the private prison industry.

“The University of Houston is better than this, and should divest, disavow the prison industry and never invest in it again,” Kramp said.

The petition is the only reaction to the incident. Even more concerning: for the first time in almost a decade, the Board of Regents and Endowment Fund Management will hold their yearly meeting at UH-Victoria instead of UH’s main campus.

Such meetings are open to the public and give an opportunity for students, faculty and the general public to share concerns and question the Board of Regents’ decisions.

“The change in venue puts a barrier between the Board and those it serves, which makes it much harder for the voices of students and constituents to be heard,” Winfield said.

President and Chancellor Renu Khator, along with the University, has betrayed the community and its minority students, their families and their neighbors by allowing such disgrace to happen in the most cowardly way.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer reached out to multiple UH representatives and they declined to comment.

Contributing writer Sebastian Troitiño is a finance and marketing senior and may be reached at [email protected].

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