I recently came upon the College Sustainability Report Card for Brandeis, which can be found here. Our overall grade is a C, which means that despite some commitment to environmental sustainability, we’re still doing a fairly lackluster job. Especially troubling is the apalling lack of transparency in our endowment’s investment, as well as its lack of commitment to Brandeis’ principles. From the report:

Endowment Transparency – F
The university makes neither its proxy voting record nor its list of endowment holdings public.

Investment Priorities – C
The university aims to optimize investment return and has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.

Shareholder Engagement – F
The university asks that its investment managers handle the details of proxy voting.

From what I can gather here, we are investing purely to maximize profit and without the input of shareholders or students. Is this what we want our university to be doing, when we could be using our money to invest in socially responsible ways such as renewable energy or microcredit loans, just off the top of my head?

These are just cursory ideas, and I think we should do more research into the situation. As responsible Brandeis citizens, we should ensure our university puts its money where its values are. At the very least, it could make its list of holdings public, which many other universities do.
What are we investing in which we have to hide?

5 comments on “What does our money support?”

  1. Sahar Says:

    I don’t want us to be giving money to Halliburton, or Raytheon, or Diebold, or News Corporation. By buying their stock and therefore boosting their share price, we are if indeed we buy their stock

    And Brandeis probably does invest in those companies, because Halliburton, for example, gained about 270 % in the past five years, and Raytheon 117 %. That’s all due to war profiteering and government cronyism, so it’s not like Brandeis couldn’t see it coming and take advane of it.

    Edit: Clarification in bold

  2. Bret Says:

    I would very much like to see some shred of evidence to support this accusation.

  3. Loki Says:

    I believe Sahar’s comments were intended in jest, but the problem is that we have no way of knowing whether or not such claims might be true. Brandeis does not disclose its investment record. If they are not investing in such companies, why not show it to us?

  4. Sahar Says:

    Bret – You want evidence? i can’t give you any. Why? Because Brandeis doesn’t report. That’s the whole point.

    I wasn’t being clear enough. I’m not accusing, I’m postulating. I’ve edited my first comment a bit, and I’ll try to clarify and reiterate here:

    I suspect that Brandeis invests in companies like Halliburton and Raytheon because that’s the sort of thing Universities do.

    From extensive searching on the internet, all I know that Brandeis has about $400,000,000 in stocks and other investments, and that I think it puts a fraction of that money into socially responsible funds.

    I’d like to know more. But, since “The university makes neither its proxy voting record nor its list of endowment holdings public.” I can’t.

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