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Sunday, February 25, 2024

UF student senators voted against a bill that would create a socially responsible investment advisory board at UF on Tuesday's Student Senate meeting.

A student protest group has been clamoring for changes to UF's investment policies for about a year in an effort to ensure UF does not invest in any socially irresponsible companies.

Currently, UF does not disclose details of its investments, but a majority of students who voted in Student Government spring elections approved a referendum that asked UF to create a committee to advise the Board of Trustees, UF's highest governing body, on its investments.

Although 33 senators voted in favor of the bill Tuesday night and 31 voted against it, the proposal required two-third of senators' approval votes to pass.

The bill, which was written by Sen. Tina Steiger and Sen. Brandon Sack, two of the student protesters fighting for a change to UF's investment policies, proposed to create a board of students and faculty that would help UF decide how to invest its $1.2 billion endowment. The UF Investment Corporation, a nonprofit group that handles UF's endowment, is not required to release details about how it invests.

Doing so would be nearly impossible since UF's investments change almost daily, UF officials have told protesters. In addition, releasing information about UF's investment strategies could encourage others to invest the same way, which could decrease the university's returns. Student senators argued that people would have different definitions of "socially responsible," making it difficult to make recommendations to the board.

"I don't feel like its going to be representative of the whole student body," Sen. Jordan Loh said. "How are we going to define what's socially responsible for all the different groups?"

Other senators argued that the bill was simply redundant, as the board and UF President Bernie Machen have already expressed support for socially responsible investments.

Sen. Michael Ramsey said the board shouldn't need advisers to help it make decisions.

"I have trust in them, and I think we all should, too."

Kevin Reilly, Student Body president-elect, reiterated UF's concerns, adding that it would be difficult for an advisory board to keep up with the ever-changing investments.

"It's going to be very difficult and hard-fought to track $1.2 billion in investments that is changing day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute," Reilly said.

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