More ethical investments

Currently, the Board of Trustees is determining whether or not to pass a resolution to divest or withdraw their investments from hedge funds that invest in the manufacture of cluster bombs and depleted uranium, harmful weaponry sold to various countries. The University has a substantial amount of investments tied up with hedge funds — groups that use methods such as short selling to offset investor losses— throughout the world. Due to the current structure of hedge fund regulations, the managers of these funds are not obligated to divulge where they invest investors’ money. The University has wisely decided to diversify where they invest their money. As a result, our money is spread out over a variety of portfolios.For these hedge funds, the University of Vermont only has a small fraction invested out of billion dollar portfolios of invested stocks. Since we are such a small fraction of these portfolios, we are not able to dictate the investments for the hedge fund managers. Instead, the University would have to divest from these funds and reinvest into other funds after going through a process of investigating, or doing due diligence, on potential hedge funds.The violence caused by these two weapons provide no one with security and only furthers the world’s increasing  destabilization.This being said, The Cynic realizes the difficult financial steps that will need to be taken to achieve this divestment. Due to the current nature of the hedge fund industry, access to even our own investments is difficult and, in the words of Vice President for Finance and Administration Richard Cate, we cannot just get online and check every stock that UVM owns. Therefore, the University of Vermont should  directly contact  our investment managers such as Iridian and Rhumbline and ask whether or not those funds invest in companies that manufacture cluster bombs and depleted uranium and, if they do, ask them to move our funds to other managers. Additionally, in the future, the University of Vermont should create a list of companies that we will not invest our money in due to unethical manufacturing.The University should also continue to focus on commodity-based funds, as these continue to be profitable and provide reduced investment risk.The Cynic does not believe the decision to reinvest our money to other sectors of the economy will be a significant problem, as Cate and the Board’s subcommittee on investments has appropriately diversified the University’s investments. As such, the decision to reinvest should be relatively easy, with the only difficulty being the finding of new fund managers to invest the University’s money. So, to the Board of Trustees: whether you address the issue of divestment in your May meeting, or next fall, please pass the resolution for divestment.