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Letter: Time to invest in greater clarity

Concordia College’s Endowment: One Place Where Students Lack a Voice

Before school started this year, Concordia’s endowment reached its highest level ever, an unprecedented $92,300,000. Indisputably, a large endowment is good for all of us, but with that huge number, there are problems. One problem arises when students are asked, “Do you know where that money is invested?” Well, do you?

Of course you do not know where that money is; the school administrators do not make that information accessible to students. Given the amount of money that we pay for tuition, we should be informed about where Concordia invests. Leaving students in the dark about where the endowment is being invested is in complete contradiction of the school’s mission: “to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.”

Right now we have the opportunity to influence the affairs of our community and the world at large. To do this, we need to create a system of student oversight for the college’s $92.3 million endowment. As responsibly engaged citizens, we can all agree that this money should to be invested in a manner that reflects student values. Socially responsible investors avoid investing in companies that contribute to global climate change, as do business in places where human rights are being violated and genocides are being carried out and that do not provide adequate working conditions. Ethical concerns govern life at Concordia and should similarly guide how our school invests. Students need to be informed and involved in a system of ethical investment.

Student involvement can be made possible by first electing student leaders to the Student Government Association who will be committed to making endowment oversight a primary objective. This effort would result in having a student involved in investment oversight on the Board of Regents. Having a student representative in this process will provide a voice to the student body where currently there is none. This student representative would make accessibility possible by reporting endowment investment discussions; this allows all students to know whether Concordia’s investments are living up to the school’s mission statement. Once this information is available to all students, we can create movements to change investments that are seen as unethical. A ballot initiative that is put to a vote by the entire body and is approved by a 51 percent majority would force the administration and Board of Regents to take action and correct any unethical investments.

The problem here is that students are left completely ignorant of Concordia’s enormous endowment investments. The administration should have no qualms about letting us know where this money is because that knowledge will help us become even more responsibly engaged in the world.

Concordia’s $92.3 million endowment is too large for us to ignore. If this money is being invested in companies that most students would find appalling, wouldn’t you want to know that?

This letter was submitted by Carson Ouellette ’15.

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