By Helena Kilburn
Many members of the Sewanee community may have heard of SOCO, or the Socially Conscious Investment Club, but few know about the award that the group received at the end of the 2019 spring semester. Though spring semester may feel distant to some, it is important to acknowledge this award now because of what it means to the culture of the campus.
SOCO is a student run organization working with the administration to establish a socially responsible management strategy for the endowment. The endowment is currently neither disclosed or divested, as it is managed by an Outsourced Chief Investment Officer, which is why SOCO and the work they do is so important.
According to Wilder McCoy (C’20), one of the co-directors of SOCO, the organization has had many important achievements in the past year. These include passing resolutions within the student government and faculty, having PJ Deschenes (a Partner at Greentech Capital) come to lecture and continue to work with SOCO, presenting a 20 page resolution to the Board of Regents, and receiving the Environmental Stewardship award.
According to Jackson Campbell (C’20), the other co-director, they “got this award for being environmental stewards on campus and pushing the university to uphold their institutional values.” He feels that “this award is an honor, but there is still more work to be done.”
McCoy found receiving this award to be highly “validating after doing a lot of work behind the scenes for the past couple years and I feel that SOCO is finally getting some of the recognition that we want it to have.” He felt a huge sense of relief to have gotten this recognition. He hopes to continue the conversation and get a more concrete response from the Board of Regents, and more active participation from the student body and alumni. Campbell agrees that having all their hard work pay off was highly satisfying.
Campbell also pointed out that all the actions of the group are in an effort to hold the University to its own environmental goals as released in the 2013 sustainability master plan, bullet number 7. This section of the plan states that it is a goal of the University to “critically reexamine the University’s investment strategies, engaging in a dialog of how our investment portfolio can best reflect institutional values.” The work of SOCO in this regard is, needless to say, ongoing.
The power of this award comes most strongly from what it symbolizes which according to McCoy, is the “Growing acceptance that financial and social responsibility are two goals that work in tandem together.”