How Murray Edwards College addresses ethical and socially responsible issues
On this page we provide some summary information on Murray Edwards College's approach to various ethical and social responsibility issues which arise in the context of the College's finances and operations and which students often ask questions about.
Through the generosity of donors, particularly the Edwards Family and also other organisations, many individuals and alumnae, the College has an endowment to provide investment income to support its charitable objects of learning, education and research, and maintaining a College for students to study for degrees in the University of Cambridge.
The funds under investment are approximately £55million (September 2016). In determining how to invest the endowments, the College has a social responsibility and ethical obligation.
The College must ensure discretionary investment managers are able to operate under any stated socially responsible investment (SRI) constraints. The College relies on external advisors to manage its investments. The stage of development of the investment management market in the UK means that the ability of clients to dictate terms for SRI mandates is limited without also severely limiting their choice of available investment managers. Therefore, the College’s investment policy is short and not specific on SRI matters. However, this has allowed the College to select investment managers whose ethical investment policies are well developed, but with the College’s other investment needs properly taken into account. The ethical and responsible investment statement of the College's main fund managers, CCLA, at September 2016 is stated on page 6 of the linked report.
The College will encourage its investment managers to develop their ethical policies further and therefore maximise its influence on the market. A summary of the College’s investments is included in its published financial statements.
College Pay Policies and the Living Wage
In setting pay for staff, the College has regard to The Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation of an hourly rate of pay. Every year on 1st August, the College reviews and adjusts pay to ensure no staff are paid less than the Living Wage. These arrangements are implemented swiftly, regardless of other national pay negotiations which may be relevant.
For further information, you are invited to contact the Bursar at the College.
Green Considerations – Kitchen Operations
The College provides hundreds of portions of food every day during term time and vacations. It provides nutritious, high-quality food for a wide variety of preferences, including religious requirements and to meet various medical needs. It is a challenge, but hope we do an excellent job.
The College takes advantage of cross-college arrangements for quality-assured and well-priced sources, which address sustainability, provenance and animal welfare. The College is mindful of the sustainability of local sources, good farming and fishery practices, but is happy to work with JCR to provide local produce for Formal Halls where possible.
It is inevitable waste will occur in making sure there is enough food for unpredictable demand, and there tends to be more waste where more choice is provided. The College does what it can to minimise waste. This involves planning how excess food can be used in other meals if there is greater supply of some dishes than there is demand, but always with food safety in mind.
Inevitably, there will be food which can’t be used in this way, along with the waste from people’s plates. We generally send this for bio-digestion which results in the production of fuel and fertilisers.
Students sometimes ask whether excess food could be made available to homeless and people that need it. Unfortunately, this would be impossible to achieve hygienically and safely, so in practice, sadly, we cannot do it.
For food serving, it is most environmentally friendly and energy efficient to use college cutlery and crockery in the Dome, but we also provide biodegradable takeaway boxes.
For further information, please contact the General Manager (Residences, Catering and Events).
Energy Purchasing and Energy Use
The College consumes significant energy and gas each year in its operations. Principally, light, heat and power for the College and student accommodation, and the College’s cooking operations and students’ kitchens. Gas and electricity is mostly purchased by the Cambridge Colleges acting together, which provides pricing benefits. Three suppliers provide most of the energy requirements of all Cambridge Colleges. The Utilities Management Sub-Committee of the Colleges is considering whether purchase of ‘green’ energy should be factored into these long-term contracts which fall for renewal from 2018.
The College tries to reduce its energy consumption as much as it can. It saves carbon and money! In certain instances, it is very difficult with the buildings we occupy, which were designed when energy was cheap and consumption was not at the forefront of designers’ minds. We do what we can to limit energy use. The majority of student rooms have electric heating with thermostatic controls which benefit from simplicity of operation, price of installation and ecological effectiveness.
Much of the College has single glazed windows which are not thermally efficient, but a major building maintenance objective is to replace substantial amounts of residential windows with double glazed units. These would be more ecological, provide energy benefits and improve the environmental comfort of College residents.
The College encourages students to engage in good energy habits. For example, the Student Switch-Off Campaign encourages turning off lights, heating and electric appliances including computers when they are not in use.
For further information, you are welcome to contact the College Bursar.