Board of Regents and Divest Sewanee begin dialogue about Socially Responsible Investing

By Helena Kilburn

Contributing Writer

On Monday, February 6 and Tuesday, February 7, the Sewanee Board of Regents gathered on campus to discuss the state of the endowment. Many students, led by Divest Sewanee, wanted the board to address certain issues, including Socially Responsible investment policies and the University’s lack of such policies.

On Tuesday, Zack Loehle (C’17) and Darby McGlone (C’17), met with the board to make student’s concerns heard. Their main goal was to begin a dialogue on adopting a socially responsible investment policy, or SRI, because they believe it is a morally responsible policy as well as a good first step towards fossil fuel divestment. They felt the meeting was beneficial because they spoke with the investment committee to get their perspective on the University’s investment in general, how the endowment works, and what to focus on in order to move towards the goal of divestment and an SRI.

Chris Hornsby, an active member of Divest Sewanee, said, “So many people don’t understand where the University’s money comes from, how it is invested, or how the endowment works. For people who want to live consciously it is important to know that the food, buildings, and commodities of this campus come from these investments.”

The regent’s response to Loehle and McGlone’s presentation emphasized the importance of students voicing concerns. They suggested working closely with the investment club and suggested exploration of aspects of the SRI process. Loehle said, “This was a really positive experience, and they said they look forward to continuing this dialogue in the future… and thinking about how the University can grow towards sustainability.” Both seniors were thankful for the regent’s valuable advice on the topic.  

Loehle and McGlone feel that students are increasingly interested in the endowment as a representation of the school’s values. As Hornsby said, “if Sewanee wants to continue as a place where sustainability is important, they have to put their money where their mouth is…even though divestment deals a lot in money, economics, and politics, it is important to remember that where we put our money has big impacts on people and the way they live.” Socially responsible investing is an increasing topic of discussion and hopefully student interest at Sewanee will reflect that.