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HERE: We profit off of human bodies

| Monday, August 31, 2020

Father Sorin predicted that the University of Notre Dame would be “a powerful force for good” in this world, but I never imagined just how powerful of a force it would be in my own personal life.

During my sophomore year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained one of my immediate family members, leaving my family with serious doubts as to whether we would ever reunite. Suddenly, I felt as if I had to forgo my dream of becoming a doctor and return home to take care of my younger siblings.

From the second I stepped foot on campus as a DACA student, I was welcomed by a great network of mentors dedicated to helping me and students like me at a moment’s notice, and I quickly reached out to them. Notre Dame was able to provide me with the necessary legal support, guidance and confidence to fight the case, resulting in my family member’s release on Christmas Day.

From that moment on, Notre Dame became much more than an institution of learning to me. I truly saw the University as the “powerful force for good” it desired to be, one that takes care of the community it harbors.

My virtuous view of the school lost its luster when I learned of the University’s involvement with for-profit prisons, including ICE detention centers. Currently, through Notre Dame’s 403(b) retirement fund, approximately 95% of faculty and staff invest in a portfolio containing CoreCivic and GEO Group, two corporations that dominate the privatized prison industry and profit directly off of human bodies.

Learning this was heart-wrenching. I now look back on the support and warm welcome I received with an overwhelming sense of irony and shame. How could the administration that did so much to help me essentially force my professors, hall staff and mentors to ​profit off of my family member’s detainment and the institutions that caused me so much pain?

The University must take decisive and deliberate action in implementing a socially-responsible investment (SRI) alternative to demonstrate an authentic, actionable commitment to their values. By granting faculty and staff the option to withdraw their investments from privatized prisons and ICE detention facilities through an SRI fund, the University will be able to fulfill its Catholic mission to protect the dignity of the human person.

It is imperative for our University to veritably act on its stated responsibility to fight for those who are unjustly marginalized in our world. To shy away from action — to passively accept the status quo — is antithetical to the mission of Our Lady’s University and to Father Sorin’s proclamation. I demand the University establish a socially-responsible retirement fund option that does not contain investments in privatized prisons and ICE detention facilities, and I need you to demand this too — by signing this petition.

This is not a political debate for me. This is a matter of my family’s life. As a part of my Irish family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I need you to recognize how imperative this is. Now is the time to demand action from our University. Now is the time to act upon our values. Now is the time to truly be ​HERE f​or one another.

Willian Campos De Faria


Aug. 17

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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