What would the proposed Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing look like in practice? Who would serve on the committee? How would committee members be selected?
This proposed Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing would be representative of the Barnard community, meaning that its members would be drawn from the Barnard student body, faculty, administrators and alumnae.
The committee would consist of six voting members: three students, two faculty members, and one alumnus.
- Administrator Representation: The President of Barnard College, President Sian Block, would appoint 1-2 administrators who are familiar with Barnard’s institutional investment strategy to sit as non-voting, ex officio representatives to the Committee. These administrators would not only offer a degree of expertise regarding the operations of the College, but they would serve to preserve institutional memory on relevant policy issues. As such, the administrator representative would not be subject to term limits.
- Student Representation: The three student representatives to the Committee would be drawn from the Barnard Student Government Association (SGA) Representative Council. The first student representative would be the SGA VP for Finance. The VP for Finance would liaise between the Committee and the SGA Rep Council, thereby ensuring that Barnard’s student leaders, and by extension, the Barnard student body, are kept informed of the Committee’s activities. The second student representative would be the Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees. As a regular attendee of Board of Trustees meetings, this second student representative would serve as a conduit between the Committee and the BoT. The third student representative would be the Representative for Inclusion and Equity, who would ensure the representation of all voices in the Barnard community, especially those of historically marginalized communities. All three students would serve a one-year term. These three student representatives’ responsibilities vis-à-vis the proposed Committee would be codified through constitutional review. The specific responsibilities of the SGA VP for Finance, the Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees, and the Representative for Inclusion and Equity are clearly delineated in Sections 4, 7, and 11 of the SGA Constitution By-Laws. Thus, these sections would need to be amended accordingly to include regular attendance at the proposed Committee’s meetings. This will ensure that the three student representatives to the proposed Committee are responsible and committed, thereby securing student engagement.
- Faculty Representation: The two faculty representatives to the committee would be appointed by the Faculty Governance and Procedures (FGP) committee. The two faculty representatives would both serve two-year terms, which is consistent with the term limits imposed on other standing appointive committees.
- Alumnae Representation: The alumna representative to the committee would be selected by the President of the Alumnae Association of Barnard College (AABC). The alumna representative would likewise serve a two-year term.
Support Staff: It is recommended that the Committee employ 1-2 Barnard students as part-time research assistants (RAs). These positions would be unpaid initially, but could later develop into full-fledged, paid jobs, should the need arise.
How frequently would the committee meet? What would the timeline for divestment proposals be?
It is recommended that the proposed Committee employ the same timeline as Columbia’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. As such, student groups would submit divestment proposals by no later than December 1st.
After receiving student group proposals, the proposed Committee would have four months (December-March) to evaluate the proposals based on the criteria listed above. During this time frame, the Committee would:
- Independently verify the information provided in the divestment proposal (with the help of student research assistants);
- As needed, request additional information of the student group or ask the student group to conduct an in-person presentation at an ACSRI meeting;
- As needed, conduct listening sessions to determine whether said divestment proposal enjoys the unequivocal support of the Barnard community;
- Investigate similar divestment reviewed by analogous committees at Barnard’s peer institutions, to determine whether divestiture is the most appropriate course of action.
During the month of March, the proposed Committee would vote on student divestment proposals. If a simple majority is achieved, then they will write a formal letter recommending divestment action to the Board of Trustees. As per the timeline employed by Columbia’s ACSRI, the proposed Committee’s final recommendations would be formally submitted to the Board of Trustees by no later than April 15th.
If a student group’s divestment proposal does not pass, then it is the responsibility of the proposed Committee to compose a letter to the student(s) in question, explaining why their proposal was rejected.
It is recommended that the Committee meet once every two weeks during the divestment proposal season (December to March). During the off-season (September-November and May), it is permissible for the Committee to meet far more infrequently (once a month should suffice).