Awareness of College Investments Critical to Social Responsibility

The Responsible Investing Organization was formed to address the disparity between Oberlin College’s investment practices and the institution’s professed goals of achieving social, environmental and economic justice. While RIO’s work this semester has focused on moving the College’s money away from large corporations and into community-based financial institutions, investment activism can take on many other forms. The campaign, led by Students for a Free Palestine, to divest from companies that profit off of the occupation of Palestine is another form of investment ac- tivism that seeks to hold Oberlin accountable for the detrimental implications of some of its financial investments.

As an organization working to achieve social justice through socially responsible investment, RIO proudly supports this campaign to divest from companies that are complicit in human rights violations. If successful, this divestment movement can make it untenable for companies such as Caterpillar Inc., Elbit Systems Ltd., Group 4 Securicor, Hewlett-Packard, SodaStream and Veolia to profit off of the occupation. We are committed to the success of this campaign and stand in solidarity with SFP and the Palestinian people.

The SFP Divestment campaign raises concerns about the implications of our financial investments. Whether it is investing in companies that profit off of Palestine or keeping money in big banks that routinely harm the world’s most vulnerable, our financial practices have a huge impact on people everywhere. With an endowment of close to $700 million dollars, it is critical that Oberlin College be aware of how its investments can negatively impact people’s lives and strive to invest in a more socially responsible fashion.

One such approach would be to set aside a portion of the endowment for socially responsible investment funds rather than hedge funds — an approach that has been taken by Middlebury College. This would ensure that at least a portion of our endowment is not invested in companies that profit off of the occupation, exploit workers, harm the environment or act in other irresponsible ways. As an institution historically committed to social justice, Oberlin College has a responsibility to extend that commitment to investment policy. It’s time to take that responsibility seriously.

–Responsible Investing Organization