So what is the deal with our endowment?
Here’s some basics. As of June, our endowment rests at around $840 million. See this most recent endowment report. University endowments are accumulations of various assets that work to serve as “perpetual capital.” The yearly returns on these assets and investments, ideally, would cover all operating costs for the University for the academic year. For certain schools (corporations?) like Harvard and their $36 billion endowment, this is not a problem. But little old Wesleyan, for one administrative reason or another, has had to draw from the endowment for decades to help cover yearly operating costs. So naturally, we’ve been under pressure to offset that spending, which can be done in two major ways: fundraising (see entire ThisIsWhy campaign) and “better” investment of endowment assets. The latter of the two raises the question of where and how our investments are made, which have been the focus of numerous campus activist groups for some time.
Recall WesFest 2015. The Wesleyan Coalition for Divestment and Transparency staged a sit-in in President Roth’s office to push for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, the prison-industrial complex, and companies involved in the Israeli occupation, which members of the coalition saw as intersectional and inherently inseparable from one another.