Building on its leading-edge commitment to responsible investing through the creation of the Impact Investment Platform (IIP), and dovetailing with Oberlin's leadership in such areas as sustainability and access, the Board of Trustees has recently approved an initial allocation of $5 million to seed the IIP over the next five years.
The Board established the IIP to make the process of responsible investment and divestment collaborative and inclusive. This subcommittee—composed of two trustees, two students, one alum, one member of the Investment Committee, and one faculty member—allows various constituencies from the Oberlin College community to advise the committee on how best to accomplish the IIP's goals of investing in ways that bring about measurable positive change in addition to a return on investments.
Initially, the IIP will focus on social and environmental opportunities in recommending investments. The IIP will seek to identify investments that, among other things, meet high-impact, solution oriented social and environmental standards and operate in a manner that reinforces a clear commitment to people, the planet, and corporate social responsibility.
Furthering the Board of Trustees’ commitment to making the investment process more inclusive, the Board has adopted a divestment policy providing an avenue through which students, employees, and alumni may bring forth concerns regarding endowment portfolio holdings.
After much discourse, the adopted policy states that, in accordance with the College's history of action in response to "instances of human suffering, natural calamity and injustice," the Board will consider proposals for divestment from entities that contribute to activities that "shock the conscience."
The Board will consider a divestment proposal if it meets three conditions. The proposal must show that (a) the investment supports activities that materially contribute to conditions that shock the conscience; (b) divestment is likely to have significant financial, reputational, or other adverse impacts on the target of the divestment that may influence its behavior or the behavior of other similarly situated entities; and (c) the proposed divestment will be generally understood by and acceptable to the greater Oberlin community, based on the Board's best understanding of the community's opinion.
Any Oberlin College student, employee, or alum may submit a proposal for divestment to the Investment Office. The proposal should include the names of each person involved in submitting the proposal, the date of the proposal, and a written explanation of how the proposal adheres to the conditions for divestment.
Each proposal will be reviewed initially by the Investment Office in consultation with the Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary to determine whether the proposal contains all the required elements and whether additional information is necessary for the Board to consider the proposal; all proposals that meet the required criteria will be routed through the appropriate Board committees for further evaluation. Final decisions will be rendered by the full Board.