As an alumnus of Boston College, this is the time of year which I am again reminded of BC’s fundraising efforts in the form of the twice weekly calls from well-meaning undergraduates who solicit donations. Again, I am reminded that since I graduated in the early ’80s I have not given one nickel to BC. And each year at this time I am also reminded why-BC has never told me, despite my many oral and written requests for the information, where the money goes. So just where does BC make its investments? Where DOES the money go?
If I choose to invest in a mutual fund or to donate to the Salvation Army or to the Red Cross, I know where and how the money is allocated. An annual report is available to review. I think this is just basic common sense. But if I gave to BC I would have absolutely no idea where the money went because they would not tell me. And they wouldn’t tell you either. Do they invest in big oil companies like ExxonMobil or BP? How about tobacco companies or defense contractors like Halliburton? If in fact they did maybe this would be troubling to me or to you. Maybe it wouldn’t be. But at least we should know and the decision should be ours. Transparency is the issue.
University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., in a moving statement which appears on BC’s website, recalls the Jesuit tradition which brings so many, including myself, to BC: “Today, the call emanates from a world that has experienced an explosion of knowledge, but not a corresponding growth in understanding; a world that lacks trust in its leaders and faith in its institutions. It is a world that has developed wondrous technologies that link continents, but isolate humans, leaving men and women weary and dispirited, feeling distant from moral purpose, uncertain about knowledge or the very worth of human endeavor.”
How can I be expected to trust the leaders of BC and have faith in its institutions if BC insists on maintaining this secrecy about its investments? Even Ronald Reagan required verification in order to trust. This lack of transparency isolates all from the full communion with BC that BC seeks and proclaims. As Justice Louis Brandeis famously remarked, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Boston College, tell us all where the money goes. Otherwise, please take me off your mailing and call list. Maybe you should consider a new mission statement, too.