Regardless of whether Georgetown directly invests in individual companies or invests in funds through managers, its commitment to social justice binds it to ethical and socially responsible investment. The administration has tried to justify its actions by placing ultimate responsibility upon the fund managers, and explaining that it would be impossible to divest from specific companies. It is unacceptable to use the current investment practice as an excuse to ignore ethics in investing. If the University continues to ignore our concerns, we will return each day this week to remind the administration that students will not allow the University to continue practices of socially irresponsible investing.
This week, each delegation will begin in Red Square at 2:30 and conclude at 2:40 after a walk to the President’s Office in Healy Hall. We have asked President DeGioia to ensure that there are real procedures for ethical oversight of university investment policies. Daily delegations will act as an urgent reminder to the administration to act quickly on this gravely important issue. We hold our university to a higher standard in which our investments DO uphold our Jesuit values! Please join us in reminding the administration of the necessity of ethical oversight of our investments.
When Georgetown administrators try to explain that divestment from individual companies would be impractical and unfeasible, they are wrong. According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, “roughly 11 percent of assets under professional management in the U.S.- nearly one out of every nine dollars- are now invested in SRI.” Furthermore, numerous studies suggest that socially responsible investment often outperforms market benchmarks.
The Chief Investment Officer of Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school, stated in 2007 that he did not believe the school’s SRI policies negatively affect the growth of the school’s endowment. Loyola University of Chicago, another Jesuit institution, has created the Shareholder Advocacy Committee to substantively address student concerns about university investments and to use the power of the portfolio to affect corporate policies. These two schools are just two examples among many colleges and universities across the country that incorporate policies of social responsibility into their investment practices.
On April 25th the Georgetown University Student Association overwhelmingly passed a resolution that “calls for the institution of policies that ensure that all investments are compatible with the basic values of the University,” and “further calls for the establishment of a body comprised of faculty, staff and students that advise the Georgetown University Investment Office on issues of socially responsible investment, so that Georgetown University Endowment investments conform to the University’s foundational values.” This support from the elected representatives of the student body is yet another demonstration of the real concern that students have on this issue.
Every day that Georgetown University has no policy of socially responsible investment, we are morally culpable for practices by companies in which our endowment is invested that violate international law and abuse human rights.