Petition to Establish Responsible Investing Principles at MIT sign now

Whereas, MIT does not currently have a policy for responsible investing that incorporates the social, environmental, and corporate governance impacts of its investments; and

Whereas, MITs endowment assets are managed to maximize total investment return relative to appropriate risk (1); and

Whereas, such an investment strategy can result in MITs inadvertent financial support for companies that engage in, and investments that result in, human rights violations, social discrimination, environmental exploitation, corporate irresponsibility, and other abuses that directly contradict its values and policies; and

Whereas, MITs peer institutions, such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford, do have policies and standing committees that incorporate and consider ethical investing practices (2); and

Whereas, the students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the MIT community who have a stake in MITs $10 billion endowment currently have no way to ensure transparency, accountability, or meaningful input in its management; and

Whereas, by neglecting to participate in corporate engagement efforts, such as voting on annual shareholder resolutions, MIT may be failing to uphold its responsibility as an ethical investor; and

Whereas, MITs own Sudan divestment statement states that the risk of MIT being associated with truly abhorrent acts is real (3);

Be it resolved, by the Undergraduate Association assembled in Senate:

That the MIT Board of Trustees (BOT) should establish and incorporate guidelines for responsible investing practices that take into account the social, environmental, and corporate governance impacts of MITs investments; and

That MIT should take actions to establish a Standing Committee on Investment Responsibility (SCIR) that undertakes activities that are addressed in the attached proposal, principally the following:

Helping draft the aforementioned responsible investing guidelines in collaboration with BOT and the MIT community;
Serving as a mechanism to communicate, evaluate, and address the concerns of the MIT community;
Examining potential contradictions between MITs investment practices and its values and policies; and
In situations where such contradictions arise, engaging corporations through proxy voting, letter writing, resolution filing, and other appropriate measures so as to realign MITs investments with its values and policies.

Proposal for a Standing Committee on Investment Responsibility (SCIR)

1. The Standing Committee on Investment Responsibility (SCIR) should convene at least twice a month during the fall and spring semesters. It should initially assist the BOT in drafting responsible investment guidelines that incorporate core human rights, environmental, and social justice principles, drawing on input from the MIT community. Adopting these principles should require approval by a 2/3 majority of SCIRs members (the same principle applies to all future amendments). The SCIR should submit its guidelines for responsible investing to the BOT no later than six months after it first convenes, with its recommendations, the boards response, and the final version of the guidelines all made public.

2. The aforementioned guidelines will broadly define the SCIRs objectives regarding responsible investing, with the SCIR thereafter being the responsible entity for proxy voting on shareholder resolutions, letter writing, resolution filing, and other appropriate corporate engagement measures. The committee can also recommend proactive investments in areas that support MITs values, policies, and mission statement, as well as, in sufficiently grave circumstances, divestment from companies that prove unresponsive to engagement.

3. The SCIRs meeting minutes, voting records, and recommendations should be made public within one weeks time on a website available to all members of the MIT community, including alumni. The SCIR should also prepare a bi-annual report that outlines its activities during each academic semester. Finally, the MIT Executive Committees response to all SCIR recommendations should be made public.

4. The former Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility consisted of two student representatives, two faculty members, two members of the MIT Corporation, the Treasurer Emeritus, and the Director of the Libraries. We propose the SCIRs membership should be expanded to include two undergraduate students selected by the Undergraduate Association, two graduate students selected by the Graduate Student Council, and two alumni selected by the Alumni Association. We also recommend that the two faculty members be elected by the Faculty Committee.

(1) MIT, Report of the Treasurer, (June 30, 2007) p. 7. Available at
(2) Among the top three largest university endowments, Harvard has an Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, Yale has an Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, and Stanford has an Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility. All are standing committees that meet regularly.
(3) MIT News Office, MIT rejects abhorrent acts in Darfur, will divest as necessary, (May 14, 2007). Available at

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Daryl PonceBy:
International PolicyIn:
Petition target:
President Susan Hockfield and Chairman of the Coporation Dana Mead


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