RI at the University of California

By Tahiya Sultan – California Student Organizer

The responsible investment movement in California is moving along! Last week, on March 10, 2010, UC Berkeley hosted an event about socially responsible investing titled “Discussion: Socially Responsible Investments and the UC” that featured John Harrington from Harrington Investments and one of the founders of SRI, Adam Sterling from the Sudan Divestment Taskforce and the movie “Darfur Now” and Morgan Simon from the Responsible Endowments Coalition. I worked with other students from the UC-wide responsible investments coalition to put together this event to raise awareness about SRI around our campus and educate people on what it means to us as students at a public institution. We had a great turn out, with people representing various campus organizations attend. The speakers were all so energetic and passionate about what they had to say, which was inspiring to everyone in the audience. The event sparked great discussions and drew a lot of interest. We had people write down their contact information so that they could join our UC-wide coalition or partake in mobilizing students to attend Regents meetings. We hope to follow up with people that attended the event to get them involved. One of our goals as a group representing different UC campuses is to spread our scope to other UC schools and expand our coalition to include more students. We are hoping that events like this will encourage this and promote the growth of our coalition.

Last month was upsetting because the UC Regents meeting was cancelled at the last minute after our UC group had spent weeks preparing and gathering students to attend the public opinion session. However, we have not lost our morale, and our plan is to have an even bigger turnout at the rescheduled meeting. We are still adamant about pushing our movement. The event that we held at Berkeley is one step towards pursuing our mission as a group. We are hoping to replicate and promote more awareness events similar to the one held at Berkeley so that other UC campuses can work on spreading awareness. We want the Regents to know that this is an issue that we will not stop fighting for. We are hoping to get more media attention to put pressure on the Regents to act. There are several people within our UC-wide group working on publicity and press. Others are working on research to present at the Regents meeting. The group as a whole is very effective because there are representatives from campuses including UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. We hope to eventually spread our scope. But, for now, there are several passionate individuals that take part in weekly conference calls and take on tasks that are delegated by the group. The ways that the group stays connected is through these weekly calls, threads online, and emails. We are hoping to have another retreat at some point to discuss our progress and if necessary, reevaluate our strategies.

Next week, I am planning to attend a conference in New York titled “Investing in a Sustainable Future.” I hope to take what I learn and apply it not only to my role as a Student Organizer, but also share it with the UC-wide responsible investments group. My goals for the rest of this semester are to keep promoting the growth of the uc-wide group and get media attention on the issue of responsible investing and the UC. I hope that our efforts will lead to the UC Regents adopting proxy voting guidelines, creating a committee on investor responsibility, and taking part in community investing. I don’t know how long this will take, but we’ll keep trying our best to do what we can to raise awareness, educate, pressure the Regents, and most importantly, pursue our passion for social and environmental justice. It’s important to constantly remind ourselves why we’re part of a movement, and for me, I want to continue to promote responsible investing because I think it’s a unique tool to foster social changes. I’m excited to see what changes will take place at the UC level!

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