What is SRIC?
SRIC is a Bard student-led committee that invests in corporations on behalf of Bard’s student body in order to facilitate positive social change within those corporations. The mission of the committee is to leverage power over corporations and to have an outsized impact in areas where we as students want to see improvement, and doing so with only a limited amount of money. The committee is made up of five elected students and an adviser, the college’s Chief Financial Officer, Taun Toay.
Here’s a clip of Taun giving a brief overview:
How we operate:
SRIC uses what is known as shareholder activism in attempt to facilitate positive social change within corporation.
Shareholder activism: This is when a shareholder (partial owner of a company) engages with a company through letter writing, proxy voting or filing shareholder resolutions. The shareholder must own $2,000 worth of a company or enough shares that make up least 1% of a company.
What we’re currently invested in:
Change we want to see:
- At ExxonMobil, we will be requesting that they formally denounce their knowledge about climate change and to establish a scholarship that will fund graduate students to get advanced degrees in climate science.
- At Urban Outfitters we will request that they have more supply chain transparency and that they will display information such as where they source their cotton to ensure that they are abiding by their ethical values, and not sourcing it from locations that have poor labor standards.
Where we get our funds:
SRIC uses funds from a grant that was earned for the committee and also money that was fundraised by our committee’s adviser. This money is SEPARATE from the college’s endowment.
How we choose what to invest in:
- SRIC has held blind votes in the campus center, where we hand out ballots with descriptions of companies without their titles, and students have voted where they would like change to occur. Going forward, surveys on what students want to invest in will be distributed via Google Survey.
- The committee is also receptive to student and club input in where students would like to see change.
How SRIC is unique to Bard:
- Clubs similar to SRIC, such as UPenn’s Social Responsibility Advisory Committee, exist at other institutions, but they are only advisory committees and have little to no rights to make investments like students at Bard do. They only are allowed to make recommendations to the managers of funds at their institutions.
- Students in similar committees at other institutions, such as Divest Harvard, generally call for the divestment of funds from companies or industries they believe to be immoral, and to reinvest in a socially responsible company.
- At Bard we specifically choose to invest in companies that we feel need improvement to be more socially responsible in order to make positive changes from within.
SRIC was founded in 2007 by an empowered group of students who wanted to see where the college’s investments were going. These students received trustee approval to vote the proxy rights on any of the holdings on the endowment and to make investments themselves. They also established Bard’s Social Choice Fund, which is a fund that invests in companies that demonstrate direct and measurable environmental and social impacts and screens out any “sin” stocks.
SRIC at Bard introduced a resolution to McDonald’s which asked the company to stop its use of harmful pesticides on its potatoes. McDonald’s now monitors all of its potato pesticide use, which is over 25% of potatoes in North America, alongside phasing out the most harmful pesticides and meeting with Bard’s SRIC on an annual basis.
More on the McDonald’s case:
Response to Climate Strike:
The Climate Strike demanded: “Immediately divest from any fossil fuel related projects and reinvest in climate solutions”
- In response to the demand, SRIC held a panel in November 2019 on shareholder activism vs. divestment.
- This event happened following increasing concerns as to whether Bard should divest from Exxon (the company students voted for in the blind vote in fall of 2017) following the climate strike which demands we divest from any holdings in fossil fuels.
- The panel came to the conclusion that we since we are currently invested in Exxon that we should engage with them to request positive social changes pertaining to climate change initiatives (by filing a shareholder resolution) and if they accept our request then we follow up with them and reinvest in another company. If they deny our request, we may follow up with another resolution or divest and possibly make a noisy exit when we do.
Contact | Meeting Time
Feel free to reach us at SRIC@bard.edu We meet at 6:00 pm every Monday in the lobby of Olin LC.