Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., January 24, 2002–At the request of students, the Board of Trustees has established a way for alumni and friends of Williams to make gifts to the college that will be managed in a separate “socially responsible” fund. The Social Choice Fund has been initially invested in the Balanced Fund managed by the Calvert Group.
According to Calvert, the Balanced Fund invests in companies that strive to operate in an environmentally sustaining manner; practice good labor relations; produce or sell safe, healthy and useful products or services; and are responsible corporate citizens in their communities. The fund avoids investing in companies that are major polluters or have a record of environmental non-compliance; primarily engage in nuclear power; practice poor labor relations; are significantly engaged in making weapons, tobacco or alcohol; or are involved in gambling operations.
“The Social Choice Fund gives Williams alumni who are not comfortable with some of the college’s regular investments a way to give to the college without indirectly contributing to activities they do not support,” said Mike Levien ’01, a leader of the student group that advocated for the fund. “Furthermore, it advances the college’s educational mission by stimulating dialogue at all levels of the Williams community — from students and faculty to administrators and trustees — about the implications and responsibilities of owning and investing wealth.”
Socially responsible investing has three aspects: voting on companies’ shareholder resolutions that deal with social, ethical, or environmental issues; screening from a portfolio companies thought to do harm; and seeking investments in companies and organizations believed to produce social good. The Williams Board of Trustees has been voting shareholder resolutions for 20 years on the advice of the college’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibilities, made up of faculty, students, staff, and alumni.
A year and a half ago, Williams students engaged the Board of Trustees in a dialogue about screening at least part of the college’s portfolio along socially responsible principles and investing in local community development. Meanwhile, the students raised $1,500, which they invested in a community development loan fund pending establishment of a socially responsible fund at the college. That moneyhas now been transferred to the college’s Social Choice Fund. Once the fund reaches $10,000, ten percent will be invested in a community development loan fund with a preference given to projects in the Berkshires. Earnings from the fund will provide unrestricted support for college operations.
“I’m pleased that Williams is now able to offer an alternative for those alumni and other donors who would like their gifts invested in line with principles that are important to them,” Williams President Morton Owen Schapiro said. “I applaud all those who have been involved in developing the Social Choice Fund for proving so flexible and creative.”