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Sudan and Divestment: Socially Responsible Investing

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hampshire College Policy on Socially Responsible Investing

While a growing number of institutions are responding to genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, Hampshire College has not had to wrestle with the issue of divestment due to a long-established Policy on Socially Responsible Investing.

Hampshire's board-established policy requires consideration of "the moral and social implications of the management of the college's investments" in all investing decisions.

"Because of Hampshire's progressive, activist reputation, we have gotten inquiries from friends of the college and from the media about divestment," said communications director Elaine Thomas. "With our Policy on Socially Responsible Investing, we have no investments with companies that do business with the Sudanese regime."

Adopted in the 1970s and updated in 1994, the policy prevents the college from knowingly investing in businesses that "operate in countries engaged in serious human rights violations and serve to perpetuate, promote, and finance these conditions."

"Of course the goal when investing is to optimize financial return, but we have found that having these established procedures to keep social responsibility in the forefront of investment decisions at all times serves Hampshire's educational mission and values more effectively than wrestling with individual issues as they arise," said Thomas.

A committee on investment responsibility (known on campus as CHOIR) has access to lists of all holdings by the college, as well as any other pertinent data about companies. The committee is comprised of trustees, faculty, students, staff, an alumnus/a, and the college treasurer as an ex officio member.

CHOIR assists the board of trustees' investment committee in the identification of "socially responsible" corporations and those which can be identified as causing "social injury," including discriminatory practices, practices harmful to employees or practices harmful to the environment.

 

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