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University of Arizona student's protest

Tucson Citizen
Feb. 5, 2003

University of Arizona student group protests university's relationship with Lehman Bros. because it funds private prisons.

The group that tackled the connection between Nike, sweatshops and University of Arizona clothing a few years ago has launched a campaign to publicize UA's relationship with the private prison industry.

Students Against Sweatshops sent a letter to UA President Peter Likins on Jan. 28 urging him to cut ties with Lehman Brothers, a bond-underwriting company that the group says has financed many of UA's building projects, unless the company stops financing private prison companies.

"Attacking bond underwriters isn't sexy, but Lehman Brothers has a track record that rivals Nike in its willingness to put profits above human rights concerns," said Mark Rivera, a member of Students Against Sweatshops. "No one knew Nike was so bad when we first started our apparel campaigns, but now it's common knowledge. Our job is to bring that attention to Lehman Brothers."

Privatizing prisons, according to the letter sent to Likins, has opened the way to abuse of prisoners including "sexual assault, rape, forced abortion and forced prostitution; and private prison companies have held people past their release dates simply to increase profits."

The letter also called for a Code of Conduct prohibiting companies that underwrite bonds for the university from financing private prisons. Likins was out of town yesterday and unavailable for comment.

Students Against Sweatshops is planning a rally on the issue on Feb. 13 at 12:30 p.m. in front of the UA Administration Building.

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