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UNIVERSITY ISSUES: The university should communicate its voting records on shareholder resolutions to clear up recent allegations.

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On our generally liberal campus, it is hard to imagine many people who would oppose measures that encourage the use of eggs from cage-free chickens, prioritize renewable energy research or establish water as a human right. Yet the University of California did vote against these shareholder resolutions, along many others that touched upon moral and social issues, according to a recent article from The Bay Citizen.

However, there is more than meets the eye to this story, and the currently available information is not sufficient to denounce the university.

The university's multi-billion dollar investment portfolio makes it a shareholder in thousands of companies, a status that enables the university to vote on shareholder resolutions. In past years, the UC Board of Regents voted on each resolution separately but in 2001 the regents switched to an external manager to handle the growing portfolio. Nonetheless, the proxy voting guidelines require the university to review cases that are "controversial or relate to social issues."

It is easy to jump to conclusions, especially since the referenced resolutions appear to be clear moral issues. Yet there is a lot left untold.

Perhaps the university did not want to endorse resolutions attached to private corporations. Perhaps the fact that these resolutions are nonbinding would have made university support inconsequential. There could certainly be other factors we do not know that change implications of this issue - questions left unanswered by a single article.

Whatever the case, it is in the university's best interest to speak up in response to The Bay Citizen article to clarify what has been presented as a black-and-white scenario.

Considering a fact that a portion of the investment portfolio is comprised of employee contributions and student fees, the university community has a right to know what is going on.






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