Students and graduates of about two dozen colleges and universities have banded together to help one another and other schools adopt socially responsible investing policies.
“What we found was that many of us were working on the same issues and didn’t know about it,” said Mark Orlowski, a Williams College senior and a founding member of the coalition.
For decades, student activists involved in a wide array of causes have pressured their schools to change their investment policies. In the 1980s, for example, anti-apartheid student activists criticized schools’ investments in South Africa.
But there has been no umbrella organization to unite the student activists and allow them to share information and resources.
Orlowski said schools had not been active in pressuring companies they invested in to change their policies. He knew of only one instance in about the last six years in which a school filed a shareholder resolution to ask a company to change or research a policy.
“While religious communities are filing resolutions every year left and right, the higher education community has been sitting on the sidelines. They’re barely in the stadium,” he said.
As best I can tell, Orlowski’s efforts here have nothing to do with the Williams Social Choice Fund, although perhaps there is some connection. My opinions about the (lack of) desirability of this sort of stuff haven’t changed much in the last 6 months (or 20 years). Keep politics out of the endowment.
A cynic might suggest that the main function of the Responsible Endowments Coalition is to pad the resumes of its founders — not that there is anything wrong with that! Orlowski, at least, has done some interesting work on the ACSR at Williams, especially on increasing the transparency of the College’s portfolio. In fact, the College’s portfolio as of June 2000 is available on-line.