More than 300 Princeton Theological Seminary students and alumni signed a letter to the institution’s president asking that a Board of Trustees member be removed for his ties to a prison telecommunications company.
The letter, delivered Tuesday, also demands that the seminary adopt “deliberate and transparent policies on appointing and maintaining board members who reflect the anti-slavery theological commitments of the seminary.”
The trustee, Michael Fisch, is the founder and CEO of American Securities, a private equity firm, which owns ViaPath, a prison telecommunications company. The letter cites an analysis by Worth Rises, an advocacy organization for incarcerated people, which found that these companies charge as much as $15 per 15-minute phone call from inside prisons, making it pricey for incarcerated people and their families to stay connected.
“On both personal and principled levels, we are appalled that the board of trustees, which is charged with governing Princeton Theological Seminary, is chaired by someone who makes profits from conditions we have been taught to work against and have been trained at the Seminary to mitigate in our roles as pastors, chaplains, and social workers,” the letter states.
Angel Nalubega, a seminary student earning a master’s in divinity and the moderator of the student group Seminarians for Justice and Peace, said the institution must hold itself accountable “for its role in perpetuating the prison industrial complex.”
“Profiting off of the exploitation and oppression of incarcerated people is not in line with our call to build a ‘beloved community,’” Nalubega said in a press release from Worth Rises. “Fisch’s removal from the Board of Trustees would be a step in the right direction, and help us start that work now.”