DukeOpen, a new student coalition, aims to increase transparency of the Duke’s endowment.

Duke’s investments are not openly available, but by increasing transparency of fund usage, DukeOpen aims to encourage the University to instate more socially responsible investment policies. The group has created a proposal advocating for the Board of Trustees to make periodic reports to the Duke community about how the University’s money is being invested. They also propose support features such as creating an assistant vice president for investment responsibility. DukeOpen members will present at the Board of Trustees meeting May 10.

“We as Duke students pay tuition, so we should know where our money is being invested,” said junior Lucas Spangher, a member of DukeOpen and former Chronicle columnist.

The Duke University Endowment is worth about $5.6 billion, but the fund is projected to be worth $7 billion by 2017, when the Duke Forward capital campaign comes to a close. The endowment funds do not sit in a bank account, but they are invested in more than 4,100 hedge and mutual funds, which then strategically use the money to maximize returns for Duke.

DUMAC, which oversees the endowment, does not disclose which funds are invested in, Spangher said.

DukeOpen is calling for DUMAC to report its endowment investments twice a year on a password-protected website accessible to members of the Duke community. The exact location of where hedge and mutual funds invest the money would not necessarily be disclosed, but rather the Duke community would be able to know which hedge and mutual funds they are investing in, said junior Jacob Tobia, a member of DukeOpen.

“One of the most effective ways that we, as students, can change the world is through effective interaction with endowment money,” Tobia said.

He added that it is “unclear” how much administrative support the campaign will receive.

Neil Triplett, president and CEO of DUMAC, and Tim Walsh, vice president for finance, declined to comment directly on endowment transparency.

Executive Vice President Tallman Trask and Vice President and University Secretary Richard Riddell could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

In the past, administrators have argued that disclosing where endowment funding goes would deplete returns relative to competitor institutions.

Junior Stefani Jones, Duke Student Government vice president for equity and outreach, presented legislation to support the approval of the DukeOpen proposal at the Senate meeting Wednesday. The senate passed the resolution with a clear majority.

Students are currently blocked from engaging with the University’s role as a socially responsible investor due to the lack of transparency around endowment activities, Jones said.

Bobo Bose-Kolanu, a first year graduate student and DukeOpen member, said by knowing which mutual funds the endowment is being invested in, students can look up the reputations of these funds and thus advocate for more socially responsible investments.

The Board of Trustees’ Guidelines for Socially Responsible Investments state that “where the Board of Trustees finds that a company’s activities or policies cause substantial social injury, and that a desired change in the company’s activities would have a direct and material effect in alleviating such injury, it may instruct DUMAC to take appropriate action.”

The current guidelines for socially responsible investing are not sufficient in ensuring the Duke community’s interests in social responsibility are protected, Tobia said.

Understanding usage of relevant endowment funds would benefit recent student movements such as the Spring 2012 efforts to discourage investment in conflict minerals and the current push for University divestment in fossil fuels, Bose-Kolanu added.