In light of recent divestment concerns, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) is reviving the Committee for Investor Responsibility (CIR), a student, faculty, staff, and alumni panel that advises the University’s board of trustees on ethical matters related to University endowment. The CIR, an auxiliary committee of the WSA, represents the community in advocating for greater transparency and shareholder responsibility but does not have fiduciary responsibility.

The committee was created in 2017 to replace the Endowment Advisory Committee, which was fully under the authority of the WSA. This change expanded the committee’s influence and representation within the University community. Ruby Clarke ’24, the WSA’s Student Life Committee Chair, is leading the process to bring the CIR back to campus after several years of inactivity.

“The CIR is a group of selected students and appointed faculty, staff, and alumni, and potentially grad students if there’s interest,” Clarke said. “The student group meets on a weekly basis, and then they meet with the larger group around every two months…. Part of it is very project-based: It’s trying to figure out if there are any genres of investment that we don’t want to be a part of and what we can do to create a compelling case to demonstrate that [divestment] is not going to have a negative financial impact.”

According to the committee’s bylaws, it is to be comprised of up to 13 voting members, including 2 faculty members appointed by the chair of the faculty, 2 staff members appointed by the Vice President for Finance and Administration, 2 alumni members appointed by the Vice President for University Relations, and up to 7 students, including 1 member of the WSA.

While the CIR was initially intended to be a self-sustaining committee, where current members nominate individuals for the following year, interest in the committee declined after the Board adopted its proposal to divest from fossil fuels in 2021. All former student members graduated, and the committee ceased to exist until Clarke took an interest in Fall 2023.

“Bylaws are living documents, and you can amend and update them with the body [of the committee],” Clarke said. “But because there is not a current body, it’s a bit confusing…. The way that we’re doing it this year is that everyone who’s interested, including the member of [the] WSA, goes through the same application process.”

The application has also been extended to graduate students. They were not originally included in the original bylaws due to a perceived lack of interest, but Clarke believes this is an opportunity to involve them in the process.

“Ive heard from multiple different clubs, groups, and also individuals that are interested in [the CIR], and increasingly, [in] greater transparency with investment,” Clarke said. “After the Bunsis presentation in the fall brought an analytic overview of Wesleyan’s finances, I think that also sparked a lot of interest from students, staff, faculty, and alumni about where Wesleyan’s money is…. This is a good opportunity for students to similarly be making qualitative assumptions about quantitative things with the information in front of them.”

Communication from upper administration and the board of trustees has pointed to the CIR as a way for students to weigh in on the endowment and investments.

“If I remember correctly, the opinion of students on the University’s investments has come up each year that I have been on the WSA,” WSA President Orly Meyer ’24 wrote in an email to The Argus. “Previously, there was not a great mechanism for sharing this feedback with the administration. Students interested in Wesleyan investments should apply to sit on the [CIR] committee because it will be a direct way to voice concerns about investment with the finance office.”

Clarke is also in conversation with the administration to ensure that the CIR, along with other auxiliary committees, receives support to continue annually.

“One of the things that we’ve been discussing, with primarily the Finance and Investment office, is figuring out to what degree it is our collective responsibility to be ensuring that this group, this programming, these questions are being pursued, and that students have [the CIR] as an avenue,” Clarke said. “In the past six months, when students have been bringing this primarily to President Roth, a lot of his responses have centered around, ‘Well, there is this committee,’ but it doesn’t exist.”

According to the University’s website, the board of trustees continues to follow a 2015 resolution with input from the CIR about ethical considerations in Wesleyan’s endowment investments, wherein the investments staff incorporates a section on potential issues with environmental, social, and governance factors in every investment memo to the Investment Committee.

“The CIR is obliged by charter to consider any proposal from a member of the Wesleyan community relating to the University’s investments, and welcomes any such input,” the WSA website reads.

The application to join the CIR was released in an April 1 email to the student body, and it closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5. The WSA encourages anyone who is not a graduating senior to apply, and there is no requirement for prior experience in investment or financial management.


Rose Chen can be reached at