Oberlin Students and Alumni Demand Accountability, Not Corporate Criminal Trustees

In the wake of the revelation last week that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed financial fraud charges against Oberlin Trustee and Investment Committee Chair Thomas Kutzen, students from Oberlin's Responsible Investing Organization and Oberlin Alumni for a Responsible Endowment issued the following statement condemning the corporatization of the university and calling for greater transparency and value alignment in Oberlin's process for selecting new trustees.

11238972_832691146822123_3226473047282430961_n.jpg

To the Oberlin College Board of Trustees,

In consideration of the criminal allegations for fraud brought against Oberlin College Trustee and Investment Committee Chair Thomas Kutzen by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), we, the undersigned, call for increased transparency in the selection process for board members and in the overall governance practices at Oberlin College. We expect Oberlin to pursue greater diversity in the search for future board-elected trustees by intentionally reaching out to the marginalized communities, which the college claims to represent, and members of non-financial industries.

Chief Investment Officer reported July 5, 2015, that the US Securities and Exchange Commission accused Thomas Kutzen, founder of AlphaBridge, of breaching his fiduciary duties to clients. As reported, Thomas Kutzen is personally named in two of the six alleged violations by the SEC and has accepted the SEC punishments.

Our college leaders have been incentivized to “follow the money,” which has come at the expense of responsible management and governance that adheres to Oberlin’s supposed mission of fostering social consciousness. As members of the Oberlin College Community, we hold this institution, and those governing it, to the highest standards of responsibility and accountability. We expect the college to respond proactively to these allegations by seeking a more transparent and socially responsible path.

The influence of Oberlin’s endowment extends far beyond the college; Oberlin’s investments play a role in the global economy. With this in mind, students and alumni have long fought for our finances to reflect the values and principles that Oberlin was founded upon. In the name of fiduciary responsibility, students have been told time and again that the transparency and involvement they demand is not possible. The fact that the head of the investment committee was charged with fraud further amplifies our concerns regarding Oberlin’s lack of financial transparency. We call for greater effort by the Board and administration to be more transparent in governance and financial matters.

If our board demography is to reflect Oberlin’s values and institutional priorities, the college must demonstrate its commitment to diversity.  We call on Oberlin College to actively expand its board membership to reflect the narratives of individuals it claims to represent such as trans, queer, low income communities, and communities of color. We also expect the Board to seek members outside the financial sector to fill the next available board-elected trustee position.

Oberlin College boasts a proud history of pushing against the status quo and daring to be true to its values, its students, and its alumni -- even when such a stance was unattractive or unprofitable. Why should this time be any different?

 

Signed:

The Responsible Investing Organization
Oberlin Alumni for a Responsible Endowment
Joseph Sheeran '12

to sign this letter - email rio.oberlin@gmail.com

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive our updates and get access to all features of this website. Sign in with:

Latest from the blog

Jul 10, 2017
"Historic new research from CDP, voted no. 1 climate change research provider by institutional investors, in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute, today reveals that 71% of all global GHG emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 100 fossil fuel producers. This group is the source of 635 billion tonnes...
Mar 23, 2017
Congratulations to the activists at York University! "The York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI) has voted to recommend the University's divestment from arms manufacturers and fossil fuels. YUACRI was established in 2012 to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into investment management processes and ownership practices...
Mar 15, 2017
"Columbia University, New York, will divest certain coal industry investments in support of addressing climate change, Lee Bollinger, the university president, said in a message posted on the university’s website. University trustees have agreed to divest from companies deriving more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production, he...

Sponsors

Partners

Partners

Partners