Investment Platform Betters Student-Trustee Relations

Machmud Makhmudov, Contributing Writers

On Oct. 17 Clyde McGregor, OC ’74, chair of the Oberlin Board of Trustees, announced via an article in Oberlin OnCampus that the board had approved a resolution for an impact investment platform.

The platform will promote responsible investment of the College’s endowment through a sub-committee comprised of students, alumni, faculty and trustees. Coming off of the Oberlin Symposium on Divestment held nearly three weeks ago, I’m personally excited about the potential that this platform has to promote Oberlin’s social justice agenda and generate a positive relationship between the board and the student body.

While maintaining financial solvency for the College in both the immediate and long-term is imperative if Oberlin is going to continue to make a world-class education accessible to thousands of students. That doesn’t mean that a return on investment has to come at the expense of environmental or social justice concerns.

While Oberlin’s endowment of nearly $700 million is a small fraction of the $400 billion held by all colleges and universities in the United States, the investment choices that we make reflect our most deeply held values.

When it comes to taking principled stances, what we do speaks so loudly that nobody can even hear what we say. Making strategic investments provides us with an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is and support socially conscious causes.

As a student senator, I encourage students to work with Senate’s Transparency Working Group (chaired by Senator Hope Kassen) to help develop a unifying vision for what impact investment looks like for Oberlin. Hope is excited about expanding the group’s reach and impact and has gotten it off to a great start.

The Responsible Investment Organization has also done tremendous work creating tangible options for the College to help improve the economic and ecological resilience of the local region.

The Impact Investment Platform also has the potential to be a space where a productive working relationship between the student body and the Board of Trustees can be forged.

By accepting students onto the Impact Investment sub-Committee, the Board is clearly communicating that they are eager to listen to and hear from students.

I hope that the creation of this platform is a strong first step toward helping the entire Oberlin community craft a unified vision of the values that we are committed to upholding.