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Speaking Out

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 Resources Office.

'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,

Bibliographic Specialist,

Eugene Ormandy Listening

Center, Van Pelt/Dietrich Library

Vending on Chancellor St.

The letters 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 campus.

-- 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.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, January 13, 1998, Volume 44, Number 17