Coming Clean

Environmental group targets Stanford investment muscle

But despite that scientific consensus, he says, the GCC is spending big public relations dollars holding press conferences, writing faxes, and sending out press releases to convince the public otherwise.

While acknowledging that scientists are not 100 percent certain about the cause and effect of global warming, he argues that to wait for absolute certainty is "a gamble we cannot afford."

Those are the views Ozone Action would like to see Stanford start carrying into the boardrooms of the nation's major corporations.

The current campaign is only the latest grass-roots effort aimed at Stanford's investing practices. If history is any indication, its chances appear good.

In the early 1970s, Stanford became one of the first universities to adopt a statement on investment responsibility that emphasized a balance between financial health and ethics. Stanford defines investment responsibility as "fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities while giving independent consideration to allegations of substantial social injury by companies in which the university invests."

At that time, the school also founded the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility, which is made up of students, faculty, and school administrators. The Board of Trustees established a Special Committee on Investment Responsibility.

Both of the groups consider social issues, such as human rights violations and environmental degradation, involving companies Stanford invests in, and recommend shareholder actions the university can take.

Mary Kimball, Stanford's investment responsibility officer who sits on the advisory panel, said that she would bring up Kennedy's open letter in the next panel meeting.

Student representatives on the advisory panel are collaborating with Ozone field organizers to obtain information on the number of shares Stanford holds in each of the four GCC member firms in which it invests.

Ozone Action's campaign is clearly still getting started, and there are no earth-shattering results as yet. At the University of Washington, the student government recently passed a resolution calling for the university to divest stock in GCC members, but that has not happened. Harvard student leaders have proposed a similar resolution, but the idea has not yet been voted on by the student body. Still, Ozone Action's Salazar says, "we are making great headway. We are going to continue to work on other college campuses.

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