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Princeton, most Ivies do not disclose Russian investment holdings as some colleges divest amid war in Ukraine

<h5>22 Chambers Street houses the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO).</h5>
<h6>Ben Ball / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
22 Chambers Street houses the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO).
Ben Ball / The Daily Princetonian

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine moves into its sixth week, a growing number of American colleges and universities have made moves to divest endowments from Russian holdings. The vast majority of Ivy League universities, including Princeton, have not announced similar plans.

Since the initial invasion in late February, national and international sanctions on business in Russia have been instituted in response to the invasion, and as the war continues, American universities are becoming another avenue for sanction efforts. Across the country, colleges and universities, including the University of Colorado and the University of Arizona, have announced  divestment from holdings in Russian companies and stocks.

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The Arizona public university system, for instance, had $4 million invested in Russian assets — a small fraction of its $1.2 billion endowment — which Fred DuVal, the Arizona Board of Regents’s chair-elect, announced a move to divest in early March, as first reported by Inside Higher Ed.

“With today’s action, the board repudiates Putin’s aggression,” the board’s chair Lyndel Manson said of the decision to divest at the time.

At Princeton, many University community members have expressed solidarity with Ukraine, raising money and holding public demonstrations. One group of Russian students wrote a letter of support which was circulated through University listservs and published in The Daily Princetonian. 

The most recent and high-profile divestment announcement came from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on March 14.

In light of such divestment announcements from Princeton’s public counterparts, the ‘Prince’ reached out to the University Office of Communications on the issue.

Responding to a question on whether the University has plans to divest any part of its endowment from Russian holdings, Deputy University Spokesman Michael Hotchkiss wrote that, “Any process to consider divestment and dissociation would go through the Resources Committee of the CPUC [Council of the Princeton University Community], which was established to ‘consider questions of general policy concerning the procurement and management of the University’s financial resources.’”

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Hotchkiss reiterated in an email to the ‘Prince’ the University’s general policy regarding public disclosure of endowment holdings.

“The University does not publicly disclose holdings of the endowment or its investment strategy,” he wrote. “The only exception is the rare context of a formal dissociation proceeding reaching a certain level of maturity.”

Kate Ivshina ’23, one student on campus who has been active in Ukraine solidarity work, told the ‘Prince’ she opposes any investments in Russia.

“Although we cannot comment on the divestment or dissociation process that the University may be considering, we want to make it clear that we are against any investment in Russia,” she wrote to the ‘Prince,’ speaking on behalf of 02.24.2022, a student group founded in the wake of the invasion.

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“Any investment in Russia pays directly to support the ongoing genocide of Ukraine through Russian taxes,” Ivshina added. “Efforts should be directed towards rebuilding of the Ukrainian nation and supporting millions of refugees who became the victims of the war.”

The ‘Prince’ also reached out to the seven other Ivy League universities to ask whether they have plans to divest from Russian holdings.

According to the Yale Daily News, Yale University has reportedly divested from Russian holdings, but it has not specified how much of its endowment was in Russian assets. Officials from Yale University did not respond to the ‘Prince’ by the time of publication. Yale has also signaled a commitment to enroll more Ukrainian students in the upcoming school year, as the YDN reported on April 6.

Columbia University Associate Vice President of Internal Communications Robert Hornsby declined to comment.

Dartmouth College Associate Vice President for Communications Diana Lawrence told the ‘Prince’ that Dartmouth is “horrified by the brazen aggression of the Russian war in Ukraine,” and that the university “[hopes] that the global condemnation of this unprovoked invasion and its devastating effects reflects rising support for basic human rights, respect for international law, and the principles of freedom and understanding valued by academic institutions.” 

Lawrence also referred to Dartmouth policy not to disclose specific investment holdings.

Harvard University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. 

Brenden Garza is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at bg8077@princeton.edu or @brenden.garza on Instagram.

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