The Oberlin Review

University of Wisconsin students protest the institution’s fossil fuel investments.

Across the Country, Colleges & Universities Move to Divest

April 22, 2020

As the issue of climate change has become increasingly salient, colleges and universities have come under increasing pressure to withdraw their investments wrapped up in different ways in the fossil fuel industry. These demands raise questions about the potential impact of fossil fuel divestment, as well as its financial and technical viability for educational institutions. Last year, the Review reported on the College endowment’s exposure to fossil fuels (College Maintains ‘Minimal Exposure...

Oberlin Has Transparency Problems

Les Leopold, OC ’69

March 13, 2020

Oberlin College’s administration claims that contracting out 108 union dining and maintenance jobs will save over $2 million a year. But where is the evidence for this claim? Good governance requires full transparency so that all the stakeholders impacted have the information needed to evaluate such dire actions as well as the overall financial health of the College. That is far from the case here. Here’s what we have NOT seen to date:  1) The proposed non-union sub-contracts: How much do they cost, and with whom? How long do they last? How are quality control and student safety issues handled along the way? What are the quality, performance, and labor relations history of the contractors? 2) Administra...

College Maintains “Minimal Exposure” to Fossil Fuel Investments

Katie Lucey, News Editor

December 6, 2019

Five years after the Board of Trustees published an official Resolution for Divestment and established the Impact Investment Platform, Oberlin’s endowment remains partially invested in companies that benefit from the production and consumption of fossil fuels. “Oberlin still has minimal exposure to fossil fuel investments,” wrote Vice President for Finance and Administration Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings and Chief Investment Officer Jun Yang in a joint email statement to the Review. “However, they are legacy investments and the College has not made any new investment for several years.” In 2014, The Board allocated $5 million to fund the IIP and adopted an official Resolution for Divestment. Each year for the...

Oberlin Will Survive Financial Challenges

Donn Ginoza, Alumni Membership Council Member

November 30, 2018

The recent protest in response to Tom Reid’s termination from his former position of associate director of the Student Union seems to be only the beginning of more conflicts as the administration addresses what it sees as difficult financial decisions ahead. What made Oberlin special for me as a student was the courage students showed in speaking up on issues of importance. This tradition continues. When Oberlin describes itself as a place where students who want to change the world go, it speaks to a culture that is unafraid to identify problems but also committed to solving them. As the Review article describing the protest pointed out, Oberlin’s challenges exist at a high level. Oberlin has an existential problem,...

RIO Reclaims College’s Financial Autonomy

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

April 15, 2016

Over the weekend, I participated in a workshop led by the Responsible Investment Organization, exploring endowments and how to sustainably and responsibly invest. There are three main reasons why I think students should join RIO. First, there may be no other time in your life when you can leverage more than $800 million dollars for any social benefit. Secondly, reinvestment is constructive and effective: not only are you criticizing the current method of investing, you’re also able to simultaneously suggest a solution. Finally, student participation is needed now more than ever. Everyone knows investment pools aren’t co-ops, but you are normally able to vote on where your money goes. Yet for all funds managed by ou...

Capitalist Demands Limit Growth

Jasper Clarkberg, Contributing Writer

October 9, 2015

Last week Student Senate Liaisons College fifth-year Megs Bautista and double-degree junior Jeremy Poe announced the possibility of the Board of Trustees reducing the College’s endowment payout. This move would solidify Oberlin’s overall long-term financial position while gutting its short-term budget. By opting to save more and spend less, Oberlin would be cutting its operating budget by millions of dollars. It’s no secret that Oberlin cannot sustain its current path. Colleges and universities across the country are struggling with rising costs and an increasing need for financial aid. I understand that the demands pouring in from all sides are likely making the administration feel claustrophobic. Making more...

Kutzen Allegations an Opportunity for Greater Oversight

Editorial Board

September 11, 2015

Following news in early July that Trustee Thomas Kutzen, OC ’76, had been charged with fraud by the SEC and had stepped down as chair of the Investment Committee, the Office of Communications released a statement about the incident — that is, if one can call three short paragraphs released nearly two weeks after the story broke a statement. It included all the basics: Kutzen’s hedge fund AlphaBridge Capital Management neither confirming nor denying the SEC’s findings, his record of service to Oberlin and so on. Tucked at the end of a paragraph was a small but important note: “Kutzen has now retired from active service as a voting member of the Board but will continue to support the institution in a variety of...

Frandsen Presents on Current College Finances

Oliver Bok, Staff Writer

December 5, 2014

Mike Frandsen, the vice president for Finance and Administration, gave students a broad overview of Oberlin’s revenue and expenses on Monday amid widespread student concern that the College isn’t doing enough to make Oberlin more affordable. According to Frandsen, gross tuition — the sticker price that does not include financial aid — has increased by 4 percent on average over the last five years. Net student tuition — the actual amount of money collected from students after factoring in financial aid — has increased by 5.9 percent per year since 2011. Financial aid has increased by an average of 5 percent per year during the same time period. “Eighty-two percent of our projected revenues for...

RIO Pushes Trustees for Transparency

Responsible Investing Organization

October 31, 2014

To the Editors: On Oct. 2 of this year, the Board of Trustees announced that it is accepting proposals for divestment of the endowment and outlined general criteria for evaluation. This news comes in addition to the announcement last year of the Impact Investing Platform, which will invest $5 million of the College’s endowment over the next five years in companies with a high social impact. Both actions show that the College is beginning to recognize the moral implications of its investments. This is especially impressive in a financial culture that so often directs its sole focus towards profit, and we commend the Board for its progress. That being said, we would like to push the Board of Trustees to go a bit...

OARE Commends Divestment Policy

Oberlin Alumni for a Responsible Endowment

October 10, 2014

To the Editors: Last week, the Oberlin College Board of Trustees released a groundbreaking policy for divestment. In a statement, the Office of Communications said: “In accordance with the College’s history of action in response to ‘instances of human suffering, natural calamity and injustice,’ the Board will consider proposals for divestment from entities that contribute to activities that ‘shock the conscience.’” In addition, the policy states that divestment proposals must cause “significant financial, reputational or other adverse impacts on the target of the divestment that may influence its behavior or the behavior of other similarly situated entities;” and that “the proposed divestment ......

Nord Family Fund Ensures Education Outreach Remains Permanent

Nora Kipnis, Arts Editor

February 14, 2014

As college students, we are used to sitting in a classroom listening to lectures by someone one or two generations older than us. But at the Tuesday Teas at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the situation is reversed; this past Tuesday, a small crowd of local adults, including many residents of Kendal at Oberlin, gathered in the East Gallery of the Allen to hear Sarah McLusky, OC ’13, discuss paintings and prints and how they demonstrate the rise of humanism during the Renaissance. The student docent program is a unique feature that makes the Allen stand out among college art museums; while others provide training in museum education for graduate students in art history, Oberlin’s program is one of the few that allows...

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