On Tuesday, September 17th, President Michael Roth ’78 sent out a campus-wide email announcing Friday’s Climate Strike. He also announced Wesleyan’s new (?) investment policy. (Read it after the break.)
Are you interested in corporate, social, environmental, or governance issues? The balance of ethical values with fiscal responsibility? Apply to the Committee for Investor Responsibility to become involved as a student representative!
The CIR, a student, faculty, staff, and alumni committee, was created to consider social and ethical issues with regards to the Wesleyan Endowment. The CIR engages in shareholder advocacy on behalf of the University and offers oversight to the investment decisions of the Board of Trustees.
Our recent work and charter can be viewed on our website, http://cir.wsa.wesleyan.edu/. Members’ duties include attending bimonthly to weekly meetings, independent research on issues of concern, as well as drafting shareholder resolutions. Most recently, the CIR has developed and presented a proposal outlining procedural mechanisms for the Investment Office and Board of Trustees to thoroughly consider environmental, social, and governmental concerns in investment practices.
If you are interested in the CIR, please visit our website and familiarize yourself with what we do before applying. To apply, please submit one to two paragraphs explaining why you are interested in the committee and what relevant skills you would contribute to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, April 13.
Apply By: Wednesday, April 13 at 5:00 PM
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.
“The facts are there, the arguments are solid, and with enough research, we think it’s absolutely clear that this could be a good choice for our university.” – Maya McDonnell ’16
Unless you live under a rock, which, given the advent of chilly New England weather, better be heated, you’ve likely seen groups of concerned students hang hand-drawn banners from almost every high up place in Usdan.
Although they vary in shape, size, and semi-hieroglyphic language, these banners have the same message: Wesleyan needs to step up to the plate and divest from fossil fuels.
Divestment movements are nothing new at Wesleyan. Among the most notable campaigns were the calls to divest from South African companies in the midst of apartheid during the 1970s and 80s. (Our courageous leader, Michael Roth ’78, occupied former President Campbell’s office in support of the South African divestment movement in 1979.) More recently, Students for Ending the War in Iraq (SEWI) demanded divestment from defense companies in light of then-current Iraq War in 2007.
Wes, Divest! started as a rag-tag group of concerned students late last February as divestment movements nationwide began to pick up steam. Co-founder Angus McLean ’16 was surprised that Wesleyan, “the school you would expect to be at the forefront of this movement,” didn’t already have a group devoted to fossil fuel divestment.
McLean mentions that their initial goals included a “direct freeze on new investments and divestment within five years from… funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.” The group stands by these goals and plans to continue to “work with the administration to figure out the best way for Wesleyan to divest.”
With the arrival of a new school year, the group took on a more concerted effort, setting up a social media campaign and assembling those infamous banners. Bolstered by passionate freshmen, who make up over 60% of the group, and the creation of Fossil Free, a website that links nationwide divestment movements together, Wes, Divest! has gained great momentum on campus.
The Patricelli Center, Dana Pellegrino ’12, and Josh Levine ’12 have a crazy-cool proposition for you ingenious innovators:
Have an idea that’s been keeping you up at night? Ready to transform it into a reality? This summer, Downtown Project will make investments of $25k into six very early stage startups, and one of them could be yours! For three months we will bring together founders, a mentorship network, and a host of learning opportunities in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas to see what’s possible when big ideas are given the time, resources, and opportunity to percolate.
Interested? Read the background below, then email joshl(at)downtownproject(dot)com to request more info. Applications due May 14th.
From the estimable Corey Guilmette ’13:
This Tuesday, April 30th, from 4:15-5:15 in 41 Wyllys 114 the Committee for Investor Responsibility (CIR) will be hosting conversation with Wesleyan’s Investment Office, University Relations, and CIR members about investing, social responsibility, and Wesleyan’s financial future.There will be FOOD!!! Including, but not limited to: Pad Thai, Cookies, Cobbler.
The Investment Office will give an overview of endowment strategy and performance.
University Relations will discuss the alumni giving process.
Student members of the Committee for Investor Responsibility will report on progress on community investment and shareholder engagement, and solicit input on ideas for future projects.
A Question and Answer session will follow.
Date: Tuesday April 30th
Place: 41 Wyllys Room 114
From Brenda Straker:
Acquiring angel investment or venture capital is often the first goal for many emerging entrepreneurs. However, many startups pursue this type of investment before they are ready. We’ll talk about what angel investors and venture capitalists are looking for from start ups before they invest including
1: planning, documentation and proof of concept
2: criteria used to evaluate business plans
3: rates and pace of return that they ask for in return for their investment.
Check out the Patricelli Center‘s website for more information on similar events.
Date: Tuesday, October 2
Time: 5 pm to 6:30 pm
Place: Downey House, Hobbs classroom 113
Do you know where Wesleyan invests its money?
Neither do we.
This Sunday, come out to engage with the discussion and witness the WSA vote on the endowment transparency resolution, submitted last week by the Socially Responsible Investment Coalition. If passed, this resolution will be a major sign of support for endowment change from the student body, and especially for unparalleled accountability in investment information. This is a long time coming, so witness history!
Having lots of supporters in the room will really help to show just how many people value this cause, so please! Bring your dinner, and your energy.
Date: Tonight, Sunday, October 16
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Usdan 108
Check out our five demands for investment transparency after the jump.
First Mass Meeting of the Socially Responsible Investment Coalition
Do you care about where Wesleyan’s money goes? Would you rather see our endowment invested in clean energy than in coal and weapons manufacturers? Would you rather see Wesleyan put its money in local banks who would reinvest in the Middletown community than in big banks? And would you like to do all this while maintaining profitable returns on the endowment so we can all continue to get financial aid?
Then come to the FIRST MASS MEETING OF S.R.I.C., the Socially Responsible Investment Committee. We will be discussing plans for the year, including a campaign for investment transparency, plans to partner with the WSA, and an upcoming conference in New York over fall break to learn more about what other schools are doing! There are lots of ways to get involved this year!
Date: Oct. 6
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Place: University Organizing Center (between Beta and Eclectic)
Noah K-M ’13 hopefully doesn’t care that I abbreviated his last name for stylistic reasons:
Do You Support BIG Coal?
Should Wesleyan’s endowment?
Come to an informational meeting this thursday for Wesleyan’s chapter of the Socially Responsible Endowment Coalition to learn how you can help direct our investments toward sustainable, peaceful, and (just for fun) profitable funds. Whether you are down with singing about investment transparency in Usdan, talking with administrators, or crunching numbers, your talents, enthusiasm and creativity will be put to use. our actions as a group have the potential to support sustainable practices WORLDWIDE!!!
Date: Feb. 17
Time: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Place: University Organizing Center (next to P-safe building on High Street)
Cost: The faster we handle BIG coal, the sooner we can pick off pesky small coal.