Students demand Yale endowment disclosure

In a day of panel discussion and ‘street theater’, a group of students gathered this week at Yale University to protest the Yale endowment’s non-disclosure policies with regard to private equity and hedge funds.

Students met this week in New Haven, Connecticut, to discuss and protest the $13 billion Yale University endowment’s lack of transparency in its private equity and hedge fund investing, according to The Yale Herald.

The event, attended by roughly 25 students from Yale and other universities, culminated in a rally and “street theater” in front of the Yale investment office. Protesters delivered to the office of endowment head David Swensen a petition signed by 170 Yale students demanding that the endowment disclose its investments.

Swensen, well known in the private equity industry for his approach to fund investing, has been criticised by some student activists for his support of alternative investments, which the detractors say can shield from the public’s view socially and environmentally irresponsible investments.

The protests were part of a broader student movement called the Unfarallon Coalition, which specifically targets Farallon Capital Management, a hedge fund that manages money for the Yale endowment. Movement organisers say Farallon is overly secretive.

In November, Unfarallon organisers sent a letter to a Farallon executive demanding quarterly disclosure reports and asking that the fund “refrain from punishing universities whose investment offices agree to disclose such information,” according to the Yale Daily News.

Before staging this week’s rally, students participated in a panel discussion on responsible investing. Vanessa DiCecco, a Mt. Holyoke College student, was quoted by the Yale Herald as saying investments in private companies contributed to a “capital drain” away from local institutions. As an alternative this drain, she cited her college’s investment in a local organic bakery.