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].


  • “The writer reached out to multiple UH representatives and they declined to comment.” No surprise there…

  • Sebastian Troitiño … like the Obama Regime, believes that all Blacks and Hispanics in jail — are innocent. A crazy notion believed by crazy people.

    And this business with your assertions of UH betraying minorities is crazy as well … what else is UH suppose to do with its money? Invest in 30 year bonds paying diddly squat?

    Sebastian? Do you even have a savings account?

    We can see that the College of Social Work is just a nursery for budding Socialists like Nakia Winfield and Julia Kramp, who obviously wake up each morning just waiting to be offended … and cry foul with their Banking and Bondage petition.

    Nakia and Julia … who do you sympathize with? The Blacks and Hispanics in jail who are not innocent? Or THEIR VICTIMS?

    You guys are as gullible as those girls who believed ISIS a loving and inclusive people as traveled their areas, only to be found raped and murdered.

    So I invite Nakia and Julia and Sebastian, since these Blacks and Hispanics in prison are obviously innocent, please invite these people into your apartment or your parent’s house to live. Undoubtedly, those people are so wronged they would be grateful for your help. Yeah right.

    Nakia and Julia are hypocrites as well with their support of SocDem governments that imprison innocent Blacks and Hispanics.

    I do not fault UH with their investments. I’m a grad student and it wouldn’t surprise me with my investments, that I probably have a fund or two that invest in the same private prisons. And I say … WHO CARES?

    I feel assured that UH did not knowingly invest in funds that invest in private prisons … but with funds, there are many stocks and bonds that fund managers invest in, and I doubt the investments that Nakia and Julia investigated contain more than a percent of the prisons in question, which is nothing.

    As an investor I can say that I’m only looking at the bottom line and not thinking like a Socialist.

    I certainly hope that Chancellor Khator tells Nakia, Julia, and Sebastian … GO POUND SAND.

    • Is the idea that you think that the UH has no possible other industries that they could invest in? If that’s the case, you should know that UH has plenty of other profitable investments, and shouldn’t have any problems moving these investments over to those accounts.

      As for the victims of inmates, a disproportionate number of those are there for drug possession, so I’m not sure what victims you are referring to here. Can you let me know who you feel is victimized in these instances so that I can better address your question? According to the National Institute of Corrections, “people with mental illnesses are overrepresented in probation and parole populations at estimated rates ranging from two to four times the general population.” (http://nicic.gov/mentalillness) These are also people who I would prefer not to live in my house, but who also don’t belong in jail cells.

      Even if you are only looking at the bottom line, and don’t actually care about people at all, for-profit prisons are a financial gain only in the short term. The cost of mass incarceration is phenomenal- it costs on average $31,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate. Even if you wanted to go full socialist, paying for a year’s worth of their housing and food, you could do it for less tax-payer money. We’re not even asking for that, just to stop imprisoning people who don’t need to be incarcerated.

      • Even people in jail for drugs have left victims whether it is someone who has been stolen from … or a family members or friends who has been ignored, abused or neglected.

        The cost of mass incarceration can be easily reduced. Those people are babied compared to others in jail around The World.

        • There are plenty of functional recreational drug users who don’t steal, abuse or neglect people. There are a plethora of them on the UH campus.

          The cost of mass incarceration would be best reduced by not incarcerating people who don’t belong there. They might be ‘babied compared to others’ but they shouldn’t be in jail in the first place.

          • You are trying to excuse a behavior that is inherently dangerous, whether rec use or not..

            No doubt you use Nakia or you wouldn’t be writing so passionately about it.

            I watched the commercial with the girl who smoked while pregnant, and her daughter weighed only 3 lbs at birth. Now what would have happened if she smoked weed. Is that fair to the child?

            I know you being a Socialist fetal life doesn’t mean much to you, and evidently your life doesn’t mean much to you either … or you wouldn’t be smoking dope in the first place.

            • ‘Inherently dangerous’? Please help me to understand what the inherent danger is in using a well known and researched drug like marijuana. Do you think it’s less dangerous if it’s used in Colorado where it is legal? How do you determine what drugs are inherently dangerous, and which are not? Why should we put people in jail for possession of a plant?

  • Main points i got from the writer:

    1) Prisons don’t want white people, they only want to incarcerate minorities for some reason.

    2) American prisoners don’t have families; illegals being arrested are separated from their families and native prisoners aren’t somehow.

    3) UH should comb through every single investment that their hedge fund manager invests in.

    Jesus Christ kid, could you lack more common sense?

    • 1) Prisons incarcerate minorities at far higher rates than they incarcerate whites- that’s purely fact. You can come to your own conclusions as to why.

      2) I’m not sure which article you read, but it takes a lot of twisting around to get to this conclusion.

      3) UH is a Tier 1 University and should absolutely be accountable for where it puts its money. It has a management board and the finances to ensure that it only invests in endeavors that it aligns with morally and it is ludicrous to think that they are so inept that this is something too difficult to achieve.

      I encourage you to pursue further understanding of these issues before dismissing them so hastily.

  • Thank you for sharing this important and real issue. Mass incarceration is strategically aimed at people of color dispproportionally. Institutions should not invest in the people over profit. The entire UC system in California and Columbia already divested, and glad Texas students are already uplifting the issue.

    Especially in Houston Harris County jail is 89% people of color. This has to stop.

  • Mr. Troitiño, thank you so much for bravely speaking the inconvient truth that few people know about or want to hear. It is important to hold our instituciones accountable and ensure they not invest in things that are damaging to the community. Thank you for “speaking truth, even when your voice shakes.”

  • I appreciate you shedding light on this Mr.Troitino. I am really shocked that the University of Houston would invest in Private Prisons. No Education institution should make profit from someone getting locked up. If anyone is going to the U of H Victoria location, please let us all know so we can mobilize and let the ones who are controlling this know how the Students, Parents, and Community feel about this atrocity.

  • The Chair of the Board of Regents is among a handful of billionaires in this country. I hope it comes as no surprise that UH is willing to tie its fortunes to the commodification of incarceration thereby putting its profit ahead of human lives. Those who subscribe to a capitalist, corporate Darwinist winner-take-all mentality will, of course, defend it; those who care about human rights and human dignity and how unnecessary imprisonment reduces the human capital with which a culture has at its disposal as a resource will be outraged by it. Guess which side, in a culture which condones various forms of structural violence in the service of profit and greed will more often win out?

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