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SGA Hears From Roos Bros About A Student Divestment Committee

This week at SGA, a team of Roosevelt rockstars pitched a committee of students, faculty, and alumni tasked with calling out Barnard’s foul investments & persuading them to reconsider.

The Roosevelt Institute presented to propose a permanent advisory committee on socially responsible investing (ACSRI) at Barnard. The role’s purpose is to “establish an administrative avenue which students could bring divestment proposals forward to the Board of Trustees.” They cited their experience in pushing Barnard to divest from Baupost Group, a hedge fund which they believe has made morally unconscionable investments, as an example of the need for an ACSRI, as the process was difficult. The proposed committee would be comprised of two SGA members (VP of Finance, and the Senior Rep to the Board of Trustees), two faculty members, and an alumna. And all of their divestment proposals would need to meet three criteria: Broad community support (600 petition signatures from CU undergraduate students and five relevant endorsements), proof of social harm (which they intentionally defined broadly), and a thorough analysis of financial impact (which they called “thorough” yet said did not need to be completed with any economic expertise—“simply an acknowledgment of the financial risk Barnard’s endowment would be in should divestment occur.”) Their ask to SGA was for a statement of support for the creation of an ACSRI, and support the committee in being heard by the Board of Trustees. Questions raised touched on logistics, such as the structure of support letters, to concerns about diversity, such as the proposed committee’s composition (the potential consequence of laying off dining hall staff should Barnard ditch Aramark (a boycott Roosevelt organized), was raised as an example of a potential diversity issue). A couple of doubts regarding the choice of SGA members for the committee were also raised, as despite the VP of Finance’s/Trustees Rep.’s financial understanding of the Board, one representative suggested that perhaps the Representative of Sustainability or the Representative for Equity and Inclusion would be better equipped to reinforce Barnard’s values through expressing investment concerns, which the ACSRI seems to aim at addressing.

Then, the Barnard Assistant Vice President for Marketing & Communications and the Director of Digital Strategy came to discuss the updates being made to Barnard’s website. It included better navigation features aimed at enhancing the experience of a current student vs. a prospective student. Attention is also being paid to ease in accessing Foundations requirements and the course catalog. Other suggestions included an interactive widget indicating which libraries and dining halls were currently open, as well as one communicating which Dean of Studies is currently holding office hours.

Edit February 6, 2019, 9:00 AM: A previous version misidentified Vice President of Communications as being involved in the website update process. It is the Assistant Vice President for Marketing & Communications.

SGA Logo via Bwog Archives

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