Faculty Senate Executive Committee unanimously support tobacco divestment

The topic will be discussed at the University Council meeting today

· February 18, 2014, 5:40 pm   ·  Updated February 19, 2014, 12:11 am

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The Faculty Senate Executive Committee unanimously voted in support of a proposal for tobacco divestment, yesterday’s Faculty SEC Actions report announced.

The motion supports a proposal for the sale of the University’s funds invested in tobacco companies. At the SEC meeting on Feb. 12, philosophy professor Michael Weisberg advocated for divestment, arguing that Penn’s mission of education, health and research is contradicted by gaining financially from companies responsible for a major threat to world health.

Weisberg added that most of Penn’s peer institutions have already divested from tobacco, according to the report.

Perelman School of Medicine professors Frank Leone  and Robert Schaller also spoke in favor of the proposal, noting that tobacco companies market their products with full awareness of the harmful effects of nicotine addiction, the report said.

“The faculty of the Senate Executive Committee heard both reasons supporting the divestment proposal and reasons against it through several excellent presentations,” Faculty Senate Chair Dwight Jaggard   said in an email.

The committee discussed the financial implications of divestment and the University’s public message, as well as ethical issues around divestment, such as tobacco’s disproportionate impact on communities of color.

“I was impressed with the discussion and feel that the outcome speaks strongly as to faculty sentiment on this issue,” Jaggard said.

The proposal for tobacco divestment will be discussed at today’s University Council meeting, and the SEC recommends the Trustees approve the motion.

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