2 Things

1. Here’s what disturbs me about the swim team debacle, and it really has nothing to do with the swim team itself:

Why on earth is there rioting and class council blitzs for this one when there wasn’t anything for the library announcements? While I like to see students (finally) getting upset over the budget, the priorities are still screwy. I’m with Andrew that the first goal of budget cuts should be to maintain our academic infrastructure at top-notch, even if that involves cutting a team or two. But none of these teams should be axed before the Collis projects and some of the various deans are eliminated (I’d also recommend severely curtailing the amount of money flowing into the UGA program). Academics should be the absolute priority, but no one was upset enough to protest over the libraries, and I never saw the class council weigh in. I suppose the fact that specific library cuts have not been announced could have some effect, but still…

2. This is regarding Rollo’s “slippery slope” comment about my editorial. First off, I don’t think slippery slope arguments are “stupid.” If you truly do Rollo, then you should have no qualms accepting a speech code which restricts only the most vile expressions of speech. You also wouldn’t have a problem accepting just a couple more restrictions on gun rights, even if they were very very tiny. Afterall, if there’s not a slippery slope, then what is just one more law affecting only a few people’s guns, especially if it doesn’t affect law-abiding citizens? I write this knowing full well it is bound to start a debate.

But more importantly, I don’t think I was outlining a “slippery slope” issue. It is more like a cliff. Either you invest concentrating on the social implications of stocks, or you invest looking to generate the greatest return, unhindered by other thoughts. “Moral” investing is not possible with something like Dartmouth’s endowment because it would have to be representative of 4000+ students’ views, not just the individual investor. I’m not saying that tobacco divestment is the first step and could be taken further. I’m saying it would be taken further (yes I’m aware of the South Africa divestment; no I don’t know all the details or why there weren’t immediately calls for other divestment schemes), but even if it weren’t, it would still affect the way we invest money. Maybe I’m being obtuse, but this would force our brokers to do research on all the social issues related to any company before investing. For instance, they would be loathe to make some long-term investments if they knew they might have to sell them off before they reached fruition because someone might cry foul. They would have to take the tobacco divestment into account as an example of what can happen with the slightest bit of controversy on our fair campus. There is no doubt in my mind that keeping an eye towards these things would handicap their ability to invest wisely and quickly (clearly, the last couple years were not the best examples of investing, but a 45% return for one year ain’t too shabby). It would also divert tremendous research manpower.

There are a few more reasons why divesting is a bad idea. First, before any scheme is considered, the College would have to make all its stock ownings public, which they have been loathe to do. Next, the issue of who decides which stocks are bad ones is very unsettling. What if it were a representative from each student group? Elections would be just as bad. But this decision would come back to the Board eventually, and I prefer they don’t spend their meetings squabbling over whether or not business involvement in China is grounds for dismissal. Given how many stocks we are bound to own, this alone would takes weeks or months to sift through, and I sincerely hope the trustees have better things to do. I had a couple others I think, but I’m tired now. Happy Thanksgiving all.