Princeton Seminary must be accountable to ethical investment

Written by: Seminarians for Peace and Justice at Princeton Theological Seminary, and endorsed by Presbyterians for Abolition

Recently, a group of Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) alumni and current students
released a petition to the Princeton Seminary community demanding that the chairperson of the
board of trustees, Michael Fisch, be removed. The basis for this demand is Fisch’s deep
connections and investments within private prisons and the prison industrial complex (PIC) writ
large. Specifically, Fisch’s private equity firm, American Securities, owns ViaPath Technologies,
a company that fleeces incarcerated individuals by charging exorbitant rates for them to simply
stay in touch with their families.

Simultaneously, Seminarians for Peace and Justice (SPJ), a group on campus dedicated to
“pursuing Jesus’ radical vision for peace & justice through anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, &
anti-capitalist praxis” and of which the author is a member, has been pushing for an even
greater analysis of not only the board of trustees but also of the seminary’s 1.5 billion dollar
endowment. This macro-level analysis and comprehensive focus is not new to SPJ; current and
past students, faculty, and staff have been pushing for change for years. Encouraged by the
recent petition, though, SPJ has upped their campaign. While concerned with the dealings of
Michel Fisch, SPJ has also learned that the CEO of General Dynamics, a weapons
manufacturer, is another key member of the seminary’s board. Given this, legitimate suspicion
has been raised that PTS itself is also invested in those industries–specifically in the PIC,
military industrial complex (MIC), and fossil fuels .

Moreover, as a PC(USA) institution, the seminary ought to be in line with the denomination’s
standards of ethical investment; however, currently, there is no way to ensure that. Therefore,
SPJ has delineated the following demands: PTS must stop hiding its investments and make its
endowment transparent–i.e. delineating what they’re invested in; PTS must establish a body to
ensure its endowment is ethically invested; PTS must divest from corporations profiting from the
PIC, MIC, and fossil fuels; PTS must rebuild and repair harm by reinvesting divested funds into
climate-sustaining assets, Black and Brown communities, Indigenous land return, and

We, the members of SPJ, know that meeting these demands will take time and intentionality;
therefore, we seek no quick fixes. We promise to work diligently on all these issues. And we
assert that no one person, board members included, should be made into a single, problematic
center of attention. The concerns of economic racial, gendered/ sexual justice, like all demands
for social justice are structural–forming a complex and tangled world

Moreover, we, the members of SPJ, know that we are also culpable in participating in systems
that are contrary to the Kin-dom of God. We recognize our own problematic entanglement in the
very systems we are trying to dismantle. We follow the lead of others in our Reformed tradition
and echo the wisdom of the Accra Confession: “By confessing our faith together, we covenant in
obedience to God’s will as an act of faithfulness to mutual solidarity and in accountable
relationships. This binds us together to work for justice in the economy and the earth both in our
common global context as well as our various regional and local settings.”

For those who are interested in learning more about divestment and the work of SPJ you can
find resources and our petition at the following: