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Trayless Dining

Williams is working on numerous sustainability projects, many led by the new Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. The College’s efforts to make Dining Services more envrionmentally-friendly were recognized in a front page article in today’s New York Times. As the article mentions, Driscoll is now trayless; Greylock, Dodd, and Mission Park dining halls will go trayless at the start of the fall semester. The fifth major dining hall on campus, Whitmans’ in the Paresky Center, will not be going trayless in September. It is not set up in the traditional all-you-can-eat buffet style–people pick up their food at once and could not balance all the dishes without trays.

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Transparency

Williams gets a mention in this article about bringing more transparency to the Tufts endowment. Mark Orlowski’s ’04 Sustainable Endowments Initiative is also favorably mentioned. Comments:

1) I think that Williams has done less well on these measure of transparency — public info about holdings and proxy voting — over the last few years. Is that connected to the appointment of Collette Chilton as CIO? I don’t know.

2) Alas, these measures of transparency, as desirable as they may be, do not touch on the heart of the issue: information about allocations, benchmarks and managers.

3) I wish that more reporters would bother to understand that much of the debate in the Tufts article is ridiculous moral preening. See here and here for background. As long as your institution puts a lot of money in hedge funds, venture capital, private equity and the like, you can have only a limitted understanding (if at all) of your involvement with Sudan, Tibet, weapons, tobacco or whatever the cause du jour.

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College Sustainability: Williams Gets a B+ (Amherst Too)

The Boston Globe has published an article entitled, “Harvard, Dartmouth, UNH earn high ‘green’ marks,” in which it goes over the College Sustainability Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in Cambridge, MA. Williams received a B+, as did Amherst. Ratings probably of interest to Ephblog readers:

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Eph on PBS

Mark Orlowski ’04 might be old news to ephblog readers. His work on sustainable endowments while at Williams and much more so after is worth bringing up again, though, especially when its captured in the soft glow of a PBS camera.

Mark is currently touring the country with Guster. The Campus Consciousnes tour will be stopping in the purple valley this Thursday. Members of the band will be at a town hall forum at 2:30 in Brooks-Rogers before the concert to talk about environmental consciousness and giving out backstage passes for the show.

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Big Day for Williams Sustainability

college sustainability report card.jpg
Two major events occured today to elevate sustainability to the forefront of Williams. The first was President Schapiro’s announcement to the college of the Climate Action Plan. The trustees met this weekend to discuss and unanimously passed a plan to reduce college CO2 emissions 10% below 1990 levels (or about 50% below today’s levels) by 2020. That letter can be found here

The second item was the release of the College Sustainability Report Card. The Report Card examines and grades 100 schools across the United States and Canada on criteria including climate change policies, green building, and investment practices. It was produced by the Sustainable Endowments Initiative which is run by Mark Orlowski ’04. I’m not sure if his connection to Williams swayed his organization’s report, but Williams was one of only 4 schools to recieve an A-, the highest grade awarded. More can be found and the full report can be downlaoded here or here

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Ephdowment

Mark Orlowski ’04 gets a nice write-up in an Associated Press story about student activism about college endowments. Orlowski is one of the founders of the Responsible Endowments Coalition.

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.

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