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​Consider more ethical endowment investments

By Thresher Editorial Board     10/5/16 8:00am

A breakdown of Rice’s endowment indicates that 12 percent is invested in natural resources (see p. 1). Though we do not have an exact breakdown of how much of that 12 percent is allocated to oil and gas investments, Rice’s geographic location and its alumni network in the industry suggest that oil and gas is not an insignificant component of the endowment. 

It is clear that Rice is careful to lessen the burden on students from tuition by drawing from the endowment for sources of operational funding nearly twice more than the national average. Although students may complain that our academics and facilities are not as one would expect them to be given such a large endowment, we must also recognize that Rice is striving to simultaneously maintain our large endowment and the quality of our education. 

Of course, there is always room to question and improve Rice’s investments. At universities across the country, student movements have formed advocating for divestment from resources perceived as problematic. In an interview with the Thresher two years ago, Chief Investment Officer and President of the Rice Management Company Allison Thacker said Rice has no current plans to divest from fossil fuels. 

While we understand the logistical difficulties in divesting entirely from oil and gas, we believe Rice must take tangible steps towards promoting sustainability through its endowment. This could include planning to gradually reduce investments in oil and gas while increasing those in renewable energy. Rice has a responsibility to the broader global community in reducing its carbon footprint and make shifting towards more ethical investments. 

In attempting to attract talented students from across the country, Rice markets itself as a university that differs from the usual stereotypical depictions of the South. While there is no doubt that oil and gas will continue to comprise a sizeable portion of Rice’s alumni network and endowment investments, this should be no reason for us to strive for an endowment that reflects a renewed commitment to sustainability. 

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author

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