So, exciting campaign update: after spending more than a year doing research on how to do real ethical oversight on the Yale endowment, we presented our plan to the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. We'd spoken with the ACIR privately in the past, but we went to their public meeting on January 28 looking to secure their support. It went really well, and they said they will be ready with an answer by February 20. So now we are waiting for their reply with much eagerness and working to make sure that no matter what the ACIR does this week, we can keep pushing to have the best oversight possible.

After we heard from some folks from the Dwight Hall SRI Fund, Timmia Hearn Feldman '12 started REP's presentation, describing the four major reforms that, implemented together, would allow the university to match our investment practices with the ethics that we express in our other conduct. Then members of seven student groups, as well as a New Haven-area alum, spoke about how their service, political work, and academic commitments had led them to support our proposal for change.

Then Aaron Podolny '12 joined Timmia in answering questions from the committee. The first question, and one of the most important, was about the impact that these changes would have on the competitiveness of the endowment. Aaron explained that it should have no impact on the secrecy of the endowment holdings. The only people we think should have full transparency are members of the ACIR, so they can do their jobs; and in terms of protecting competitiveness, a nondisclosure agreement similar to the one they already sign (and Investments Office employees sign) should do the trick. The broader Yale community would have access to a low level of delayed transparency, which wouldn't allow copycat investors to dilute our returns, but would provide ethical scrutiny in retrospect.

The other questions they raised were good and important ones about implementation--what does it mean to have a "representative" committee? Which issues would a strong committee tackle first? Would the ACIR need research staff? It was good to start that conversation in the meeting--we're ready to move on to those kinds of questions. The shortcomings of the current methods of oversight are incredibly clear, so it was good to move on to questions of how we should make change rather than whether we need to make change.

So it was a good sign that they were raising those questions. That's where REP is at right now. But now we're waiting for them to officially acknowledge what they hinted at during the meeting, which is by no means guaranteed. It's an exciting moment. In the meantime, we are working to demonstrate that there is widespread campus support for our campaign. We need your help to do this. Please support us by signing our petition here.



Leave a Reply.