The Committee on Investor Responsibility, composed of students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and administrators, would help align the college’s moral mission with the investment of its endowment. The Committee would formulate a clear statement of criteria to identify corporations or industries whose actions or policies do not deserve endorsement by the intellectual community represented by Smith College. After the Committee or a consulting firm conducts research, the Committee will recommend to the Board of Trustees any companies which it should ban future direct investment in or divest from on social, political, ethical, and/or environmental grounds.
On February 3, 2015, the Smith College Senate voted to demand the reinstatement of the Committee on Investor Responsibility with the initial purpose of investigating the moral and political implications of investing in the fossil fuel industry as well as the possibility of divestment from the fossil fuel industry.
History of the Committee on Investor Responsibility
The Committee on Investor Responsibility was a subcommittee of the Investment Committee in the 1970s, but from 2005 to 2008, it operated independently and included not only trustees but also students, faculty, and administrators. The purpose of the Committee on Investor Responsibility was to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees on issues of social responsibility as it pertains to our endowment and voting our shares and shareholder responsibilities. The Committee succeeded in creating proxy voting guidelines for our external investment firm, Investure, on environmental issues and climate change before it was disbanded.
In addition, a recommendation by the Committee on Investor Responsibility was the catalyst for the Board of Trustee’s decision on May 6, 2006 to ban investment in companies directly or indirectly supporting the Sudanese government. This was the fourth time that the Board of Trustees had banned specific investments on moral grounds; the three earlier occasions included bans on investments in Apartheid South Africa, investments in companies producing tobacco products, and investments in Talisman Energy, Inc., a Canadian oil company with ties to the Khartoum government.
Divest Smith College hopes that the reinstatement of Committee on Investor Responsibility could advance Smith College towards its fifth divestment and allow us to unite with other universities and organizations by divesting from fossil fuels.