In 2007, Matt Ball, WSA President at the time, proposed an innovative idea for the first ever endowment run by a university student government. He suggested that instead of rolling all left over or unused SBC funds to the next academic year, we invest them so they grow. One of the primary responsibilities of the WSA has long been to manage and allocate the Student Activities Fee in a fair way that supports the vibrant student-run social life we all so dearly love. The goal of the WSA endowment is to ensure the long-term availability of student funds and to hopefully, twenty or thirty years down the road, stop charging students for the Student Activities Fee. Over the last eight years the WSA Endowment has grown a healthy amount to today be an impressive $366,000.
Advocating for socially responsible investment practices runs deep in Wesleyan’s history. Students of diverse identities and political opinions have time and time again raised the point that they don’t want our community to be profiting from activities or sectors that run counter to our community values (such as social justice, human rights, conflict resolution and environmental sustainability, just to name a few). Now that the WSA endowment is on its way to being a substantial endowment, we want to start thinking critically about best management practices.
The idea behind this new working group is to, in a non-partisan or political way, gather more information on our holdings and how ethical or socially responsible they are. The working group will also brainstorm more local and socially responsible funds where we could potentially reinvest. I’d love to one day see that Wesleyan’s student government isn’t invested in sectors where profits are made from suffering, but instead in areas of the economy that are growing in ways that align with our community values.