Proposing a Socially Responsible Investment Committee at Amherst College

Contributing Writers Amelia Cogan ’26, Vanessa Glass ’26, and Noa Costom ’26, representing Amherst College Jews for Ceasefire, present a summary of their proposal for a Socially Responsible Investment Committee in response to calls for divestment.

We, Amherst College Jews for Ceasefire, announced at Thursday’s Association of Amherst Students (AAS) divestment resolution hearing that we are presenting a proposal for a Socially Responsible Investment Committee (SRIC) to the college administration. In this op-ed, we present our proposal to the greater Amherst community. The proposal can be found here.

We implore the college to establish an SRIC in light of recent calls from students, faculty, and alumni for Amherst to divest from companies aiding the Israeli military’s operations in Gaza. As we discuss in our proposal, Amherst College has periodically restructured and leveraged our financial holdings in accordance with our ethical commitments. These adjustments have been made on a case-by-case, ad-hoc basis; Chair of the Board of Trustees Andrew Nussbaum stated in a recent article in The Student that “on a purely practical level … there is no particularly clear or well-defined way to identify which companies would be off limits [for college investment] and on what basis.” Incorporating our proposed SRIC would resolve the absence of a “clear” and “well-defined” policy toward the ethical management of Amherst’s endowment investments.

Our proposal is composed of three main sections. In our first section, entitled “History of Investment and Divestment at Amherst College,” we demonstrate that Amherst’s endowment is not only a crucial financial asset but also a tool with which the college has exacted its mission of being “in service” to the world beyond itself. We argue that the college must not pick and choose when it is convenient to honor our fundamental obligations to civic stewardship. Current dissatisfaction among various campus stakeholders regarding the college’s potential financial ties to the Israeli operations in Gaza underscores the urgent need for an established administrative channel by which Amherst community members can propose comprehensive alternatives. As such, we demand that the college standardize policies and criteria for conducting inquiry into and restructuring our investments.

In our second section, “Models at Other Institutions,” we examine the diverse strategies for community involvement and responsible investment management adopted by a number of Amherst’s peer institutions. The background we lay out in this section offers valuable insights that can inform the creation of an SRIC best suited to Amherst College’s own imperatives.

In our third section, “The Amherst College Socially Responsible Investment Committee,” we draw on our research into investment frameworks that innovatively engage community input to set forth a committee blueprint tailored to Amherst College’s particular community context, fiduciary structure, and stated mission. We outline in this section our proposed committee makeup, meeting frequency, proposal format, committee privileges, level of administrative oversight, and transparency and publishing capacities for the purposes of a SRIC at Amherst College.

In conclusion, we aim to honor Amherst College’s commitment to responsibly wielding its economic heft as well as affirming a material commitment to justice, peace, and equity in the Pioneer Valley and beyond through our advocacy for the establishment of an Amherst College SRIC. The Amherst College administration must act now to standardize and democratize our extant socially responsible investment mechanisms.