We Want Responsible Investments

by Casey Luongo, University of Pittsburgh

The holiday season is a great time to gather around with family and friends and take a break from the grind of school and work.  However, this year, I found myself starting dinner conversations around my work with REC. Only two people felt inclined to participate in the dialogue, but the topic ended up dominating the dinner conversation, pulling people in between bites of holiday treats.  Seated between investors from Blackstone and UBS, I asked if they’ve noticed an increase in demand for socially responsible investments.  I was curious to learn if SRI was the new big thing in their investment firms.  The answer to my question wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it was definitely important.  I was simply told that investors recognize SRI when the client demands it.

With that, the importance of REC’s work became ever clear.  When I was granted the opportunity to work for REC, I was given a toolkit of knowledge and resources to mobilize students to demand that our universities’ investments be made based on social, economic and environmental factors.  As students, we are clients of institutions that have endowments worth millions and billions of dollars.  We need to show our investment offices the positive impacts that the endowment can have for our universities, communities and world when invested responsibly.

As socially conscious citizens, we have the responsibility to demand SRI; as students, we have the opportunity to demand SRI from a big wallet.  There’s a good chance that many of us will never have enough money to invest with a company like Blackstone, but right now, as students, we are powerful millionaires.  So to kick off the new year, lets show our universities how to really uphold the values in their mission statements and “go greener” and give back more than ever before.  Lets use our power as students, as clients, and demand socially responsible investment for a bright, new year.

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