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Let’s Make the UC’s Money Smart
Daily Bruin OP-ED
Everybody knows money talks. In our demand and supply world, money tells businesses what we want, what we value, and what we do not care about. So when we tell you that the UC Regents in 2008 voted with corporate managements against 47 resolutions that would have prevented sexual orientation discrimination, upheld human rights, moved our country towards energy independence, and encouraged sustainable business practices, we expect you to hear the damaging message this sent to the companies the UC is invested in. Voting against such resolutions – recommendations made by shareholders concerned with company management – speaks loud and clear: concern for people or the planet need not be considered. The UC Regents continue, year after year, to remain disengaged from investment decisions when issues of fairness to people and the environment inevitably arise. In doing so, the UC is failing to align our investment practices with the principles we proudly uphold in the areas of research, teaching, and public service.
If the Regents believe that addressing social equity compromies returns, that environmental responsibility is not a part of business management, or that we as shareholders do not have an obligation to encourage corporate accountability, then their reasoning is severely misguided. It is in fact their fiduciary responsbility to concern themselves with all of those elements. Staying detatched from the decisions companies we invest in exposes our investments to long-term social and environmental risks, compromising future returns. The ramifications of social and environmental insensitivity are material risks; take the downfall of companies like Russell Athletics, compromised by a lack of ethics for human rights, or the degradation of lands, causing huge Superfund liabilities, costing companies millions in pollution cleanup. With UC money in companies like those and a status quo that refuses to vote for proactive measures, our investments stand to become unstable in the future. This idea isn’t new; many highly respected investors, like BlackRock and UBS, and peer institutions, including Dartmouth and Columbia, have successfully implemented mechanisms like the UN Principles on Responsible Investing, and have seen positive impacts.
The University of California Regents will vote this Tuesday, February 23rd on a proposal that would allow the UC Endowment and Retirement accounts, summing a total of over $55 Billion dollars, to be managed with more resolute ethics, transparency, and responsibility to the world at large. The impact of this would be monumental and global, and we strongly urge all University of California community members to support this proposal by signing the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/UC-Responsible-Investing and getting involved.
If the UC Regents can smartly address the concerns for risk management and consistent returns while upholding moral responsiblities as a shareholder, then we stand to gain more stability for the UC’s current budget predicament. That would be a decision to shout out that the power of the UCs money is to be invested with integrity for the betterment of society.
For more information and to get involved with the UC Responsible Investing Coalition, contact Victor & Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fourth-year Environmental Science, Accounting UCLA
USAC President’s Office
Four-year Anthropology, Environmental Systems & Society UCLA
Chair E3-Ecology, Economy, Equity