For immediate release: March 31, 2011
Contact: Rose Espinola, 754-281-9361
University responds to nationwide student non-reinvestment campaign
[Philadelphia, PA] On March 25, 2011, University of Pennsylvania Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli released a public statement announcing the university “has no plans to make future investments in HEI Hotels and Resorts,” a company that has sparked controversy on campuses nationwide for its labor record. The statement comes just one month after officials at Brown University announced their intention to halt investment in HEI, citing allegations of workers’ rights violations. A copy of Executive Vice President Carnaroli’s full statement can be found at: http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/statement-penn-community-hei-hotels-resorts.
HEI Hotels is an investment company that owns and operates more than 30 hotels across the country. It buys hotels and employs a range of techniques to drastically cut costs — a process that workers say comes at their expense. HEI has raised over a billion dollars in capital to buy hotels from university endowments such as those of University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Yale, Harvard, Princeton and more.
The public statement by UPenn’s Executive Vice President follows three years of campaigning by the Penn Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) and allies, including faculty and a diverse coalition of 30 campus student groups. Collectively, this coalition has carried out a series of meetings with administrators, letter drops, campus rallies, and worker delegations to the administration.
“The university’s statement demonstrates the power students have in bringing workers’ voices to the decision-making process,” says Ceasar Bautista, UPenn freshman and SLAP member. “We acknowledge the Executive Vice President’s Office’s efforts in monitoring the activities of HEI, as well as the representatives from the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Life and the Civic House for acting as mediators between students and the administration. We believe that the resounding call for accountability sent by this cross-university coalition shows HEI that students will settle for nothing less than workers having a voice in their workplace.”
Building off the momentum for change at Brown and University of Pennsylvania, non-reinvestment campaigns continue at nearly a dozen other universities, including Yale, Harvard, Notre Dame, University of Michigan, and University of Chicago, among others.
As David Williamson, a janitor at Irvine Embassy Suites Hotel, describes, “it was like a dream come true to hear about what happened at UPenn. For me and my coworkers, this takes us a step closer to winning our fight for our families and our future.”
The University of Pennsylvania Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) supports the growing student movement for economic justice by making links between campus and community organizing, providing skills training to build lasting student organizations, and developing campaigns that win concrete victories for working families. UPenn SLAP works with Jobs with Justice and is an affiliate chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops.