Oberlin Votes to Invest in Local Community

Oberlin, OH–Today, Oberlin College took an important step towards connecting money and morality by investing in the local community. The Board of Trustees just approved the Oberlin College and Community Investment Plan, a resolution to invest part of the Student Activity Fund every year in certificates of deposit (CDs) with the Ohio Educational Credit Union (OHECU). According to Ron Watts, Oberlin’s Vice President for Finance, a few hundred thousand dollars a year will go into this fund reserved for large capital purchases by student organizations, such as a new radio tower for WOBC or new computers for the Review.

Since OHECU is a local credit union, money invested in these CDs will be lent out to local businesses and individuals at better rates than at most for-profit banks. As non-profit, democratically controlled financial institutions, credit unions exist to serve their customer-members, and they offer an alternative to the big banks whose unscrupulous lending practices created the 2008 financial crisis. Credit unions invest their money the local community, as opposed to the big banks that invest in Wall Street companies who continue to make outrageous profits at the expense of homeowners, small businesses, and the environment.

The Student Finance Committee and the Responsible Investing Organization (RIO), a student group that advocates for Oberlin College to bank and invest more responsibly, proposed this resolution to Ron Watts. In addition to lobbying for local investment of College money, this fall RIO launched its “Breakup With Your Bank” campaign, an ongoing initiative to educate Oberlin students about financial institutions and encourage them to switch from big banks to local credit unions like OHECU and Lormet Community Credit Union. RIO is part of a broader national movement towards responsible investment of college and university endowments, particularly focused on divestment from fossil fuels.

As a policy accomplishment of the Student Finance Committee and RIO’s first major victory, this resolution is a step towards building dialogue with Oberlin’s Board of Trustees and Administration about the responsible investment of Oberlin’s endowment, which, as of 2011, was $690,000,000.

Update [12/15/2012]: Oberlin College has released an official statement.


For more information contact:

Responsible Investing Organization

David Tisel ‘13            [email protected]                   651.431.0306

David Roswell ‘13      [email protected]               410.952.2258

Student Finance Committee

James Foust    ‘13       [email protected]                  608.212.9296

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