Elimination of Calvert
Calvert is being dropped as an option for Penn's Tax-Deferred Annuity
(TDA) plan. I learned this from a recent letter from Human Resources sent
to those who used that fund for their retirement option. The deciding factors,
according to the letter, were "increasing administrative expenses"
and "small number of participants."
Calvert was one of only two options which screened investments for social
responsibility. I call on Human Resources to replace Calvert with a fund
with more reasonable administration costs, and in the process to protect
the socially responsible TDA option for Penn employees.
To be sure, I applaud responsible administration of University funds
spent on benefits. Yet, I see removing Calvert as the first step to eliminating
my retirement benefit.
My reasoning? The TDA plan is the only retirement benefit I know of
offered to A-1 employees. Further, for some of us, our moral, religious
or ethical principles prevent us from participating in non-socially responsible
funds. True, TIAA/CREF still offers a socially responsible fund and continues
as a TDA plan participant. Yet, if that fund would ever face similar cost
increases or participant decreases (however principled those participants),
the Calvert elimination indicates that TIAA/CREF, too, would be slashed,
leaving me and others without an option acceptable to our consciences.
In addition to reversing the slippery slope of decreasing numbers of
social screening funds, multiple funds would also allow diversification
among funds, considered wise by all financial planners. With only TIAA/CREF
open to me, I can't diversify.
I urge Penn to continue their support of the socially responsible option,
giving more options rather than fewer. Allow us to build a retirement nest
egg while investing in accord with our values.
-- Stephen W. Thompson, Data Analyst,
Information Systems & Computing
Ed. Note: Almanac has invited a response from the Human
'Bland and Boring'
I heartily concur with the opinions expressed in the
Speaking Out letters of December 16/23 about the vending truck locations.
Having mini-plazas just next to areas which should be places of intense
learning and concentration seems to make very little sense, and in the
case of the location behind the library cannot help but interfere with
the use of the loading dock by the many large trucks that must make deliveries
and pick-ups each week.
However, I would like to add my personal sadness that the planners seem
bent on ruining the delightful diversity, and sometimes even enchanting
individualism of the trucks; regulations regarding appearance, style and
size of lettering, etc. seem far more consistent with bland and boring
suburbs than with a vibrant and interesting city and University.
I also fail to understand why any regulation (beyond enforcing usual
ordinances regarding traffic and food safety) is necessary. It is true
that there are crowds around the trucks at noontime, but certainly not
to anyone's danger, and not even much to anyone's inconvenience. What happened
to free enterprise?
-- Carolyn Kidder,
Eugene Ormandy Listening
Center, Van Pelt/Dietrich Library
Vending on Chancellor St.
from Drs. Korshin and Kallberg that were critical of the proposed vending
plaza on Chancellor Street, and denouncing the "conspiratorial secrecy"
surrounding the proposal, provide much food for thought. The focus of the
University City Vendors Alliance (UCVA) and Penn Consumers Alliance (PCA)
has been on protecting the interests of vendors and University community
consumers. However, both UCVA and PCA endorse the position that academic
concerns must take precedence, and we apologize for neglecting to look
at the larger picture.
Food trucks play an essential role at the University by meeting the
demand for prepared food that is fast, convenient, and affordable. (The
trucks currently serve 30-40% of the daily lunch rush market.) We believe
that it is possible to resolve the vending controversy in a way that meets
the legitimate needs of all stakeholders while being fully compatible with
the University's mission of teaching, research, and service.
We like the idea of a food plaza on Chancellor Street, but only if it
can be done in a way that satisfies the concerns expressed by Drs. Kallberg
and Korshin. We urge Penn's faculty to examine the vending proposal in
general, and the Chancellor plaza in particular, and decide whether it
is compatible with the fulfillment of Penn's academic mission. If teaching
will be compromised by the Chancellor plaza, we will not support it, and
we hope that this snafu finally convinces the administration to actively
seek discussion with all legitimate stakeholders in order to find alternative
vending sites that will meet the considerable demand in that sector of
-- Matthew Ruben, Spokesperson, PCA
-- Scott Goldstein, Spokesperson, UCVA
Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. During weekly publication,
short timely letters on University issues can be accepted Thursday noon
for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines.
Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.--Ed.