By Aidan Regan
“We come at things slightly differently … but we all share the good of this university and the good of the students,” Board of Trustees Chair Robert Pohlad told ASUPS President Noah Lumbantobing at the open meeting last Friday.
Puget Sound’s Board of Trustees meets on campus for two days at least twice a year to make decisions about how Puget Sound should pursue its aims. Members of the Board include alumni, community members, parents, and President Crawford. The Board sets the University’s mission statement and strategic plans, reviews the educational program, ensures good management and resources for the University, secures and manages the University’s endowment, and oversees legal affairs.
The Board reports to the campus community at the end of each meeting, publishing an overview of their two days on the University’s website. Additionally, they hold an hour-long open meeting that members of the campus community can sit in on.
Members of Puget Sound’s Environmental Campus Outreach (ECO) club attended the open meeting last Friday to pressure the Board to divest from Fossil Fuels. After ECO club’s student led “Divest UPS” campaign last spring, the Board did not divest from fossil fuels but created an alternative Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio instead. Potential donors can choose which portfolio to contribute to, but the new portfolio is not advertised. “Such inaction to advertise the portfolio exemplifies the Board of Trustees’ attempt to sideline a call for climate accountability by the University of Puget Sound community,” a statement that ECO club released last Friday said. “The unwillingness to advertise the Portfolio only highlights the Board’s inability to take pride in the very solution they have created. ”According to the statement, the Board seeded the Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio with $1 million in January. This represents 0.3 percent of Puget Sound’s $310.4 million endowment. For comparison, the Board’s 2016 financial report showed a net loss of 2.47 percent of the University’s endowment, representing over $11.3 million. According to ECO club, Puget Sound still has over $41 million invested in oil and coal companies. The club has started a pledge campaign, calling for donors to withhold their donations to Puget Sound until the Board of Trustees commits to divestment from fossil fuels.
“Our love for the community explains why we must remain active and engaged. Our love for the community means we not only have a responsibility to protect it but also to ensure that it reaches its fullest potential,” ECO Club’s statement said.
“All our pushing and advocating comes from a place of love,” Lumbantobing told the Board at the open meeting.
Aside from the open meeting and report, the Board keeps other activities private and other documents sealed.
Researchers at Puget Sound may request the Board’s sealed records from the Office of the President, although it is unclear how one would know what to request.
“If the Board of Trustees and the University want to have an honest relationship with the students, they should be transparent,” sophomore Meghan Rogers said.