Community Responds to Growing Endowments

After the endowment posted returns of 46.5%, some students requested additional spending on salaries and services.

by Farah Lindsey-Almadani | 21/10/21 5h00

Last week the College announcement that its endowment increased 46.5% in 2021 to reach $ 8.5 billion. Dartmouth has allocated $ 335 million in this year’s operating budget, part of which has pledged to spend to increase student salaries and address student mental health issues, among other initiatives. While some supported the college’s additional spending on students, others believed the college could have allocated more endowment funds to help improve life on campus.

In a Dartmouth News article of On October 11, College President Phil Hanlon said the endowment’s growth was “fueled” by donors, strong market performance and the work of the investment office.

In an emailed statement, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Rick Mills clarified that the $ 335 million is the budgeted allocation of the endowment – the portion of the endowment used to support the operating budget of the College, usually around 5% – for this exercise. Mills wrote that the elimination of parental contributions for families with salaries of $ 65,000 or less, the one-time employee bonus and graduate allowance payments will be funded from investment gains to a measure that was set ahead of the endowment increase this year, “well before any returns on investment are realized.”

According to Mills, the increase in the minimum wage for students and investments in mental health will be funded by “increases” in future endowment distributions

Student employee Gui Marinho ’22 expressed relief at the increase in hourly wages. Marinho, who works at the Collis Center, said he never had a problem with his salary but knew students who were struggling to make ends meet.

“I don’t like students in more difficult financial situations having to strain themselves [with work on campus] to cope. I had friends who had to do this, ”Marinho said.

Marinho said that while the recent hard-working student allowance is a good start, he believes the college should also listen to student concerns when considering where to allocate resources.

“I think we’re talking a lot of money [at Dartmouth], but we already have billions [in endowment], “he said.” That was never the problem. The problem is to open up channels of communication, to listen to what the students want, what the students feel [and] be empathetic towards the situation of students who are less privileged or in very difficult circumstances, who are a lot of workers, ”he said.

Student Wellness Center director Caitlin Barthelmes said she appreciates the College’s commitment to mental health and wellness initiatives on campus.

“I am very excited that the College has demonstrated its support for the overall health and wellness on our campus,” she said.

Barthelmes noted that this is not the first time that the College has recently taken steps to raise awareness about mental health, noting that the Center has recently been able to hire a Student Wellbeing Coordinator. In May, the Order also announced a four-year program collaboration with the JED foundation which aims to meet the needs of students in mental health. Earlier this month, the Student Assembly announced the launch a pilot program for Calm, a mental health app.

Some community members said they felt the College could have allocated a larger portion of the endowment funds to boost the local community. Two days after the college press release, the Dartmouth Youth Democratic Socialists of America, for example, published a statement in response to the growth of the endowment. The group urged the college to end “austerity” – policies such as budget cuts and layoffs – to bring in a “correct” minimum wage of $ 15 / hour and close the wealth gap in the city. Upper Valley.

According to Dartmouth YDSA Secretary Kaya Çolakoğlu ’24, the organization consulted with students and employees from different parts of the college to draft the statement.

“We have had a long time since the start of the pandemic a network of people with grievances which mainly constitute the infrastructure of Dartmouth’s labor,” Çolakoğlu said.

Çolakoğlu said residents of the Upper Valley deserve compensation as they have been adversely affected by the College’s real estate policies, housing policies and other financial decisions.

“It is only fair that when this [wealth gap] occurs at the end of the pandemic, those who have suffered to, essentially, really keep our communities running and alive, also receive part of that dividend, ”he said.

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