By Will Ready
The beginning of this school year will mark the first year of the Student Endowment Advisory Committee. The newly formed group will serve as a liaison between the student body and the investment office regarding issues involving Macalester’s endowment, soliciting feedback from the Macalester campus on how the school’s money should be invested.The endowment, which as of June 2010 figured to be approximately $587,000,000, acts as the school’s savings account. Comprised almost exclusively of private gifts made to the school; the money is an investment fund managed by the college’s investment office. While the Social Responsibility Committee has been an avenue for students to voice their concerns over how the endowment is invested, there has, until this point, never been a group entirely made up of students designated to engage the student body in issues regarding the endowment.The SEAC (pronounced “Shack”, la Irish) will focus on educating the campus on issues of responsible investing, polling for campus opinion on issues concerning the endowment and developing ways in which the investment office can use the endowment to better reflect Macalester’s values. The group will pursue active strategies in responsible investing.An example of this is proxy voting. Any investor with a minimum amount of money (usually around $2,000) invested in a company can write a resolution on how the company is run, to be voted on by the other investors in the company. In 2001, Swarthmore College wrote a resolution for Lockheed, an aerospace company, to add a clause protecting its queer employees from discrimination. After the vote by the company’s shareholders, the corporation ended up adding sexual orientation to its non-discrimination clause, as well as giving domestic partnership benefits. This is just one way in which our endowment can be put to good use. Others, including community investing and investing in green energy and sustainability, are also possible. Here’s where you, the student, come in: The SEAC will be looking for applicants starting Friday, Sept 24. The deadline for applications will be two weeks after, Friday, Oct 8. Any student with any interest in the issue is encouraged to apply. A background in economics, finance, or anything related is not required. In fact, this group needs to be effective at working with the entire student body so applicants from a broad range of interests and experience with investments are encouraged. Contact [email protected] for more information and watch for the start of application process on the Sept 24. If you want to see Mac using its financial pull for a greater good, then this may be the perfect opportunity to get your voice heard.