ANALYSIS: Protestors, University struggle to see eye to eye on divestment

 

Matt Kristoffersen & Valerie Pavilonis 1:03 am, Dec 03, 2019

Staff Reporters   Marisa Peryer

More than a week after the halftime protest at Yale-Harvard game drew national attention, activists and the University remain at odds — with the students unable to confirm claims about specific holdings in the endowment and Yale unwilling to disclose its investments.

In interviews, the protestors said they are advocating for divestment from fossil fuel industries and Puerto Rican debt in general. They broadly consider investing in fossil fuel industries and Puerto Rican debt “morally reprehensible,” the student activists said.

Nora Heaphy ’21 — who helped organize the Nov. 23 protest — said most members of the University lack intimate knowledge of Yale’s holdings and explained that organizers’ activism does not depend on whether or not the University is currently investing in specific industries. Instead, she said, her team is pushing for Yale to put out a public statement morally condemning — and naming — these holdings and pledging not to invest in them “now or in the future.”

The Yale Investment Office typically does not comment on where it allocates its roughly $30 billion endowment. In

an email to the News, University President Peter Salovey added that while Yale does not favor divestment, it requests outside endowment managers to avoid companies that do not consider the social and economic costs of climate change and fail to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yale has the will and the capacity to make a profound difference in the fight for our planet’s future, Salovey said.

Meanwhile, Ivy League universities jointly issued a statement calling it regrettable that the orchestrated protest came during a celebrated tradition and a collegiate career-defining contest for student athletes.

According to Alex Cohen ’21, who participated in the divestment protest, students have been combing through public forms from the Internal Revenue Services and U.S. Security Exchange Commission to verify whether the University makes ethically questionable investments. The student activists do not have access to Yale’s current holdings. The University’s quarterly 13F filings to the SEC is filed by institutional investment managers that oversee assets of over $100 million. Yale, which invests the majority of its endowment through external investment managers, only discloses to the SEC the investments made directly by staff in the Investments Office.

…(read more).

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