Bodies were scattered across the Binghamton University Spine on Thursday as students participated in a die-in.
At the die-in, which was organized by DIVEST BING, student pretended to be dead in protest of a lack of transparency regarding the University’s endowment investments.
Elizabeth Nutig, a member of DIVEST BING and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the die-in was meant to represent the negative effects of certain industries the group believes BU could be investing in.
“We’re protesting against the lack of transparency with the endowment of this school,” Nutig said. “The Binghamton University Foundation refuses to tell us where our money is going, and historically money that universities and other big organizations or corporations invest in is fossil fuels, war machines and prison labor, which is stuff that literally kills people.”
The protest featured students facedown on the ground next to mock gravestones displaying names of deceased environmental activists. Megan Carrie, a protest organizer and a senior majoring in economics, said the protest was meant to inform students on a topic the University does not often discuss.
“The administration seems adamant on keeping as much of this as quiet as possible and they don’t want students to understand that their money is being used in the way that it is,” Carrie said. “At this point, we’re really just trying to get students to understand the project because it’s not going to just get done through meetings.”
In response to the protest, Sheila Doyle, executive director of the BU Foundation, wrote in an email that she previously met with DIVEST BING and addressed their concerns.
“I met with this group and discussed how the Binghamton University Foundation distributes nearly $14 million back to campus every year based on the donor’s intentions,” Doyle wrote in an email. “I listened to their concerns and informed them I would pass them on to our Foundation Board. The Foundation and its affiliates are audited annually by an independent public accountant and in support of our commitment to transparency, we have IRS Form 990 and annual financial statements available to the public online.”
Participants of the event said they did not intend to campaign for conflict between DIVEST BING and University administrators, but instead want to increase visibility for their cause. Colin Williams, a protest participant and a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said he believes it is important for students to know where the money they give to BU goes and what effect it can have internationally.
“The event is about raising awareness, and just getting people’s attention because honestly I think a lot of conflict in politics isn’t so much about fighting the other side but just about getting people actively involved,” Williams said. “Students should just know and be conscious about where their money is going because if you don’t know, whether or not you think that this money is going to the right place, you can’t even make that conclusion in the first place. We are all part of this community and have an impact on it, and it’s important we know what that impact is.”