At the Yale Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility’s open meeting Tuesday, four ACIR members faced student criticism about Yale’s investment policies.
The ACIR members answered general questions about Yale’s investments and listened to a student presentation on Yale’s investment in Israeli military-related stocks. ACIR chairman William Goetzmann also discussed the role of the ACIR in informing Yale Corporation decisions on investment policies in coordination with the Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility.
The only proposal at the meeting was the presentation Aravinda Ananda ’05 made about Yale investment in companies that do business with the Israeli military and in Israeli settlements. She cited specific companies — including United Technologies, Boeing and General Dynamics — that sell materials to Israel.
Last year, Ananda and others asked the ACIR to consider a proposal to divest from all companies doing business in Israel.
“I understood that presentation as a preliminary presentation,” Goetzmann said. “I said that if the group wanted us to take any action, we would need a more thoroughly developed proposal.”
After the meeting, Ananda said she decided to address this issue in addition to that of Israel as a whole because she thought it was a more immediate issue.
“[But] it’s clear that the burden of proof lies with Yale students and with other members of the community,” Ananda said.
Ananda said she is interested in having an open meeting in the fall at which each side can present its case, per Goetzmann’s suggestion.
Those present also discussed Yale’s investment policies, including the tight cover it keeps on its holdings. Some of the presenters said they were concerned about the privacy.
“I think it’s pretty dangerous to have a private investment policy if you don’t have people on your case,” Lucas Dreier ’04 said.
When asked if Yale’s investment policies are profitable, Goetzmann said he would estimate that the difference between this policy and investing in only public stocks could be around $2 billion. But he said members of the community can make policy proposals without knowing the exact contents of the portfolio.
“Direct knowledge about the actual investments isn’t necessary,” said John Mayes, director of procurement and a member of ACIR. “So your concern about transparency might be mitigated a little there.”
Marina Spitkovskaya ’04 said at the meeting that she wanted to be able to present her thoughts to the whole committee.
“To be perfectly honest, it’s a little frustrating to be here to present to a committe and to have no committee to present to,” Spitkovskaya said.
The ACIR is composed of two staff members, two faculty members, two students and two alumni.
Goetzmann told Spitkovskaya that if she wanted to address the committee, the meeting would be a good place to start. He also said members of the community should notify the committee that they want to address a specific issue.
“When I [am notified], we will try to organize a meeting,” Goetzmann said. “Give me a little warning.”
Dreier said he would do research for a presentation at the next meeting. He said he will address issues of socially-responsible investment.
“I’ve learned a lot — I felt like the [Goetzmann] was certainly really helpful,” Dreier said. “If there’s a way we can have a say in what Yale’s investing in and what activities it’s profiting from, that’s pretty important.”