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2013 Spring Issue 1 (April 12, 2013)

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

April 15, 2013
By BAKHTAWAR CHAUDHARY’15 and DUNCAN SALLSTROM ‘15

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 (okay, perhaps without that last part)? CRIC – an acronym for the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee - has been running in Carleton for over eight years and advises the Board of Trustees on how to vote as certain issues arise in the Carleton Community. The committee meets once a week to discuss and research resolutions, organizations, events, and opportunities.  One of CRIC’s goals is to be engaged by the Carleton Community, yet many on campus are unaware of this organization.

I was extremely overwhelmed at my first CRIC meeting. As a freshman, I didn’t have much knowledge about investments and certainly did not know what Carleton does with its 640 million dollar endowment.  I learned quickly it’s split into several types of investments. CRIC works mainly with Carleton’s public equity holdings, which amounts to about 35% of the entire endowment. Public equity is simple – it refers to corporate stock. So Carleton spreads this 35% of its 640 million dollar endowment across investments in many different companies.

Corporate resolutions are CRIC’s main avenue to advocate on behalf of Carleton’s values. Essentially, shareholders have the power to draft “proposals” that can force a company to change a policy. A resolution might ask, “Be it resolved, this company must stop action X and do action Y.” Resolutions could be used to force a company to implement a policy that eliminates discrimination in hiring practices or cap the pay of executives, to name some examples. Carleton has an opportunity to participate in this process by voting either in favor of these resolutions or against them. This is what CRIC does – it looks at Carleton’s private equity holdings, researches resolutions passed by shareholders in those companies, and suggests yes or no votes based on what we have determined to be 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!

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