$640 Million Dollars and C.R.I.C.

Pulpit rockBy Bakhtawar Chaudry

When you hear the word CRIC what usually comes to mind? The chirping of crickets, a new noise in a comic book, or an organization of students, faculty and staff that advise the Board of Trustees on Carleton’s endowment and fights off crime everywhere.  Well, it is the latter minus the crime fighting part. CRIC standing for Carleton Responsible Investment Committee has been running in Carleton for over eight years and has been advising the Board of Trustees on how to vote as certain issues arise in the Carleton Community. The committee meets once a week discussing and researching resolutions, organizations, events, and opportunities.   The goal of CRIC is to be engaged by the Carleton Community, yet many people are unaware of the Organization and when they do become aware it takes awhile to understand the process. From endowments, resolutions and proxies CRIC can be a committee with a lot to understand; however, with enough communication the vision and goal of CRIC is apparent: projecting the community’s voice.

In my first meeting on CRIC I was extremely overwhelmed. Terms were being thrown such as resolutions, proxies and endowments. I got a clearer understanding of these terms as I observed and participated in meetings.  For instance a resolution may be a fairly simple term. I mean we have resolutions all the time from New Year’s Day to our legislative body, but what is a resolution when it comes to investments and who creates them. Well, that would have to be shareholders. See what happens is a resolution is filed by an organization or an individual who has stock in the company. They become the lead filer and are joined by other shareholders as co-filers. Then these resolutions are automatically on a company’s proxy list which means they will be held for a vote at the shareholder’s meeting which is sometime in the Spring.  Once these resolutions have been filed CRIC committee members receive an alert and track all the ones that come in. We then compile all the resolutions and decide which ones to present to the Board of Trustees for a “yes” vote. The number one factor in deciding how to proceed with a particular resolution is the voice of the Carleton Community. For instance we may receive a resolution asking a company to research alternative energy. We know that Carleton is an environmentally friendly campus therefore we know this is a good resolution that embodies Carleton’s values.

In fact it is the community’s voice that has caused CRIC to research and engage in activities that promote ethical and responsible investing. So far we have branched out to schools and organizations like the Responsible Endowment Coalition (REC). Through REC we are able to engage with other schools that hold our same values and share ideas in order to make the investment process more efficient. One idea we have gained from other schools, which is a big accomplishment for CRIC, is the proxy voting policy which already designates six categories that are very dear to Carleton and automatically gives a “yes” vote to the resolution falling under these categories. The six categories are Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goals, Hydraulic Fracturing (Toxic Chemicals), Executive Compensation (Say on Pay), Political Contributions, Separate Chair & CEO and Equal Employment Opportunity.  This gives CRIC an opportunity to look for other issues that arise in the community bringing this voice to the Board of Trustees. However, the only way for this voice to be heard is through the involvement of the community.

Right now Carleton has an endowment of $640 million and we need the engagement of the Carleton community in order to figure out how to responsibly manage our endowment. CRIC has weekly meetings in which the community is more than welcome to sit in on and participate. For instance when researching resolutions community members can come and research with CRIC members directly advising the committee. Currently we have spots open for the Committee and we will be having an informational meeting so stay tuned for when this will happen and consider applying. For more information you can visit our website and check us out at http://apps.carleton.edu/governance/cric/.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want more information about CRIC or have any questions. Remember it is your voice we are projecting so please help us make it heard!

This essay was written for REC's Endowment Week of Action, and will be published next week in the Carleton school paper.

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