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Student Government Q&A: An introduction

| Wednesday, April 20, 2016

One of the complaints we’ve heard from students during the past few months is a clear lack of communication between students and administrators. Students: we hear you and we will change it. We plan to fix this lack of communication through an interview series that will be posted on the Student Government website. With help and input from student groups on campus, I will interview administrators about issues related to our five platform pillars: community engagement, sexual assault, health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability.

Our first interview was with Scott Malpass, the University’s chief investment officer. During our interview, I asked Scott to explain what the endowment does, how it functions and how it affects the student body. Our conversation also hit on current hot topics, such as fossil fuel divestment, which has become even more popular following leading environmentalist Bill McKibben’s campus visit. I got the opportunity to ask Scott how the endowment approaches divestment strategies in general and with fossil fuel divestment, in particular.

Walking away from our talk, I left with three big takeaways. The endowment prides itself on its socially responsible investing (SRI) policy. Prior to our conversation, I was completely unaware of the stringent moral code the endowment adheres to in all its actions — Catholic Social Teaching pervades every facet of the endowment. Sometimes it’s difficult to combine fiduciary responsibility with moral responsibility, but the endowment has been extremely successful in doing both.

In the same vein, the endowment takes its partner relationships extremely seriously. The highest quality of partners are ensured through an intensive amount of background research before initiating a partnership, and routine checks make sure a partner is performing at a high level in a manner aligned with the University’s core beliefs. I never knew the endowment turned down so many potentially lucrative partners due to its conviction to act in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching.

Finally, I discovered the complexities behind divestment strategies that aren’t always apparent at first glance. To ground its financial decisions, the endowment approaches each investment and partnership through the lens of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ guidelines on social responsibility.

To read the full interview with Scott Malpass, visit Student Government’s website at http://studentgovernment.nd.edu/

We believe this Q&A series with leading administrators will increase communication, transparency and, most importantly, collaboration between students and administrators. Our next interview will be with Bill Stackman, the Associate Vice President for Student Services. Stay tuned as the interview will be released during early fall.

We’d love to hear your feedback and work with student groups involved in one of our five pillars. The ultimate goal is to better serve the student body. Through our combined effort on this project, we can present our concerns directly to administrators and hear their thoughts in an informal yet informative setting.

Corey Robinson
student body president
April 18

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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