LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Justice distorted the facts about proposed endowment committee
To the Editor:Last week's Justice editorial "Financial Expertise Needed" (Nov. 11 issue), gave the impression that students on the Student Union's newly formed Committee on Endowment Ethics and Responsibility would be making or suggesting financial investment decisions to the University.
This is not the case, and if it were I would agree with the Justice that a good deal of financial expertise would be needed on these students' part.
Indeed, merely requiring that applicants to the committee "have under their belt at least one class that discusses investment-related material," as the Justice editorial board has recommended, would hardly be enough to enable them to juggle investments involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, CEER exists for a different purpose -- to serve as a voice for social responsibility and ethical considerations in investment decisions.
It will not be making decisions as to which investments will give the highest returns and best grow the endowment; that is the responsibility of the University's investment managers.
CEER's work will not deal with dividends but ethical considerations -- is it right for our University to be profiting from companies doing business with corrupt and abusive governments, such as Sudan or Zimbabwe?
Should the University be initiating shareholder resolutions on environmental or labor issues in companies where it holds stock? These are the kinds of things CEER will be grappling with and on which it will voice its concerns to the University and Board of Trustees.
The Justice called for "financial expertise" among the members of CEER if it is to be taken seriously. This would be necessary if the committee were providing input on specific financial investment decisions of the University endowment.
Instead, CEER will be an independent voice calling for morality and ethics in Brandeis' investment considerations. If its members require anything, it is not a semester of economics, but a conscience and a proven dedication to advancing worldwide social justice.
-Alex Melman '11, Adam Hughes '11 and Sahar Massachi '11
The authors are the senator for the Class of 2011, the vice president of the Student Union and an editor of the blog Innermostparts.org, respectively.