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Notre Dame falling behind

Liz Furman | Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For over two years, students at Notre Dame have been raising concerns of injustice and unethical treatment of workers at HEI Hotels and Resorts, a company in which Notre Dame is invested.  The only response we’ve received from administration is that HEI is a “good” company, and our own Chief Investment Officer, Mr. Scott Malpass, went so far as to say that students were “fed” all kinds of information that isn’t true about HEI, claiming that we were misguided (“Students protest University investment,” Mar. 25). While Mr. Malpass is a profitable investor, this was a unfounded attack on our intelligence and ability to extensively research issues of injustice and listen to the voices of workers. Unfortunately, even though HEI workers have visited campus five times, Notre Dame administration has never agreed to hear their stories.

However, at Brown University, another school invested in HEI, the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practice (ACCRIP), an objective body of faculty, students, staff, and alumni, did meet with workers. ACCRIP recognized that workers’ concerns pointed to the possibility of serious injustices in HEI hotels, and they decided to investigate the issue. Based on their findings, AACRIP recommended that the University not reinvest in HEI citing, “a persistent pattern of allegations involving the company’s treatment of workers and interference with their efforts to unionize, combined with repeated settlements” with the National Labor Relations Board. Brown’s President, Ms. Ruth Simmons, supported this recommendation. The Brown Corporation decided on Thursday, February 10 to accept ACCRIP’s recommendation, and the University will no longer invest in HEI Hotels and Resorts. In addition, both Yale and Penn have expressed some concern over the treatment of HEI workers.

Now we should be asking: where does Notre Dame stand? Will the administration continue to say that members of the Notre Dame community as well as Brown University are being fed lies? How Brown find enough condemning evidence to stop investing while ND maintains that HEI is an ethical investment, rejecting all opposing views?  The truth is that Notre Dame, a university that claims to uphold Catholic Social Teaching and espouses a deep commitment to justice, is falling behind. We have forgotten that in the face of every worker is the face of Jesus Christ. It is time for Our Lady’s University to take a stand and be an example of a community rooted in faith and justice by refusing to reinvest in HEI.

For more information, you can visit heiworkersrising.org,  heihotels.com, or e-mail efurman@nd.edu

Liz Furman


off campus

Feb. 20