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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Vigil calls for endowment transparency

Although harsh winds prevented the actual lighting of candles, Tufts students still gathered in front of the Tisch library steps to participate in a vigil last night.

Carrying colorful posters that read "Stop Genocides," participants hoped to not only remember victims of the genocide in the Sudan, but also to advocate for more transparency about Tufts' investments.

The event was sponsored by the Tufts Coalition for Endowment Transparency, Pangea, and the Tufts Coalition Opposed to the War in Iraq (TCOWI).

Of particular interest to the members of the first of these groups is whether or not Tufts has any investments in the Sudan.

"We don't know whether or not any of our holdings are in invested in Sudan or businesses that [support] the government of Sudan," freshman member Shana Hurley said.

This afternoon, freshman Gabe Frumkin, one of the creators of TCOWI, will speak before the Tufts Board of Trustees, asking for support for two measures.

"We want ... to increase endowment transparency and to create an advisory committee on shareholder responsibility," he said.

The proposed committee, which would consist of faculty, staff, alumni and students, would work with the board to decide "how we could use the rights afforded to us as owners of stocks to try and create and encourage positive social, environmental, and economic change within a corporation's policy," Frumkin said.

He said that he does not plan on requesting what he considers radical changes from the board.

"We are not going to the board tomorrow demanding divestment from Sudan," he said. "What we are pursuing is a way of exercising our rights as shareholders without threatening the viability of our money managers or the profitability of our endowment." He said he thinks the board will sympathize with their goals. "I think that the members of the board of trustees all love Tufts and they appreciate and value what it stands for," he said.

Beyond helping to guide policy, he said the members of the committee will also have the opportunity to learn a great deal.

"In addition, by allowing Tufts students to be members of the advisory committee, they can gain a great educational opportunity," Frumkin said.

Before and after the vigil, members of the group collected signatures for a petition that calls for greater transparency and the creation of the committee. "The vigil was a successful petition drive," sophomore and group member Liz Gross said.

Hurley said that the group has over 300 signatures on the petition, which has been circulating for a few days.

About 30 people attended the vigil, Hurley said. "Considering that it was freezing cold and windy I would say that that was pretty good," she said.