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As Semester Winds Down, Divestment Heats Up
By KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — Students from New York to Boston rallied May 3 with Brown Divest Coal activists on Brown University’s main green, demanding that President Christina Paxson and The Corporation of Brown University vote on whether to divest the college’s $2.5 billion endowment from the 15 largest coal companies in the United States during an upcoming May 23 meeting.
Rally organizers provided the 150 attendees with symbolic orange ballots to cast into the “smokestack” of the ballot box, a miniature coal-powered plant made from a cardboard box with a big X on its side.
Before casting their ballots, many students explained why halting climate change mattered to them.
“If we do not take action, one billion people will be displaced by climate change by the end of the century,” Brown University freshman Tammy Jiang said. “We cannot let that happen.”
To read the full article click here
. This article is from ecoRInews.
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Fossil Fuel Divestment has been the phrase on everyone’s lips.
Our campaign is focused on taking our money out of the dirty fossil fuel industry removing their social licence to operate. Students across the country are demanding that their universities' administrations think critically about the social and political impacts of their investments.
Our movement is forcing universities to take unprecedented action.
With this new eye to where money is flowing, there has been something missing from the conversation that has the power to amplify the impact of divestment: that element is reinvestment. Reinvestment moves money toward solutions that will directly grow the green economy. While we need investment in these types of technology and infrastructure in order to transition our economy, reinvestment also creates a unique opportunity to support our allies in frontline communities.
“Reinvestment can address public health issues by funding developments in wastewater treatment and mass transit. Investments in new technology will increase access and affordability of renewable energy, resulting in increased savings for all communities.”
Today the Responsible Endowments Coalition and Energy Action Coalition unveils a new resource: A Complete Guide to Reinvestment. We are calling on universities to reinvest. Investments of just 5% of our collective endowments could grow the green economy by $20 billion. As individuals, pension funds, and communities join this movement the act of reinvesting becomes revolutionary.To move your university to fund the future click here to download our Complete Guide to Reinvestment today.
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It's not really required viewing, but I highly suggest this watching this
. In January, Middlebury College hosted a panel discussion on divestment that included Bill McKibben, the college’s Chief Financial Officer, President of their endowment manager, Investure, and other professionals and campus stakeholders. The panel was broadcast live online, but with Board of Trustees meetings season upon us we thought we would take it off the resource shelf to share. It covers many of the common arguments made for and against fossil fuel divestment. The perspectives shared by the panelist are beneficial in knowing what types of questions you may encounter in discussing divestment with campus administrators. If you don’t have a full two hours to watch the panel, no worries, I created a handy viewing guide with a summary of key points and timestamps
. If you can’t get enough and are looking for the play by play I’m happy to share the 10 pages of notes I took! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Post and resource written by Reagan Richmond, REC Campaign Consultant
This afternoon, a loose coalition of students, frontline community members, retirees of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), forgotten people from Black Mesa, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, and allies converged on the annual shareholder meeting of Peabody Energy in Gillette, Wyoming. Peabody bills itself as the "world's largest private-sector coal company," and we were there to confront them on their horrendous business practices.
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Primarily I was there supporting the voices of the people most affected by Peabody: relocated off their ancestral land, cheated out of their pensions and healthcare, menaced by hungry strip mine expansion. But as a student at Washington University in St. Louis involved in the campus campaign for fossil fuel divestment, attending the meeting had a further, more personal significance.
Not only is Peabody headquartered in St. Louis, but in 2011, the company endowed a research institute at WashU, the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization. So, when Peabody advertises on its website that it is a global leader in "clean coal solutions," it can point to the work done by WashU faculty and students. This is despite the fact that the Consortium's primary focus, carbon capture and sequestration, will only be commercially viable after the window to prevent catastrophic climate change is long shut. It's flagrant greenwashing.
Even more disturbingly, Peabody's CEO, Greg Boyce, sits on my school's Board of Trustees. To put that in perspective, this guy who was asked to preside over the longterm integrity of an institution fundamentally about the future directs a company that plans on destabilizing the global climate system for money.
From the perspective of increased funding (and, worryingly, corporate direction) for engineering research, bravo. From the perspective of students trying to catalyze a shift in the University's myopic investment policy away from fossil fuel companies, tough luck.
These kinds of tight relationships between corporate funders and academia are nothing new, but they certainly provide another reason to divest: to stop directly validating companies and economic models bent on wrecking the planet's climate stability and endangering us all. Moreover, these relationships require us to expand our notion of divestment. As it's often a college's Board that must sign off on a change in endowment investment strategy, we must make sure we don't need to divest our schools of some trustees, first.
Many of the folks at the shareholder meeting in Gillette were there to confront the company directly about their concerns long swept under the rug. For me, it was also a step towards removing Greg Boyce from the Board of Trustees. That's one big reason why I followed Peabody to Wyoming: to build the case for why even among big businesses with generally poor environmental, labor, and social records, Peabody is a pariah that deserves no part in deciding anything having to do with my future. While he is a sitting member, there's virtually no chance of my school divesting. It's that simple.
We have our our work cut out for us.
This post is from Dan Cohn, a student activist and senior at Washington University in St. Louis, in partnership with the Responsible Endowments Coalition
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April 1-5 was our first Endowment Week of Action. We're taking action every day, during our Week of Action campuses across the country decided to up the ante!
As youth we've created a mass movement of young people demanding control of capital - and our own future. Check out highlights below:University of Washington | Move Our Money
University of Washington student Monica Mendoza Castrejon created this image for the Move Our Money campaign. Click here
for more artwork from Monica.UC Berkeley | Move Our Money
A multicultural group of 70 student organizers reenacted a prison chain gang, tying themselves together by the ankle and marching onto UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza to demand that the university divest from the Prison Industrial Complex. As a result of the pressure from the action, as well as a massive multicultural community presence at the student senate meeting, UC Berkeley's student senate voted to divest all of their funds from the Prison Industrial Complex, and to demand that the University do the same.
Check out video of the action below:Oberlin | Move Our Money
Oberlin’s Responsible Investing Organization (RIO) tabled at the main library, as part of RIO’s base-building Break Up With Your Bank project. RIO is encouraging students to transfer their balances to local credit unions.University of Oregon | Move our Money
Students from the University of Oregon's MEChA chapter supported the Move our Money campaign by approaching local credit unions and calling for Spanish-speaking staff in an effort to improve accessibility to the local Latino community.University of Pennsylvania | Move our Money
Students did outreach at the Social Justice Mixer, in preparation for their April 30 meeting with Penn’s Executive Vice President.McGill University | Fossil Free Divestment & Reinvestment
Students with Divest McGill made a presentation to the Board of Governors.University of Massachusetts Amherst | Fossil Free Divestment & Reinvestment
Over 200 students came together for a teach in about divestment.Smith and Mt. Holyoke | Fossil Free Divestment & Reinvestment
Smith students organized a recruitment event for their divestment team and petition drive against the Keyston XL pipeline.HEI Hotel Workers Rising | Divest
REC participated in a panel discussion about the HEI Hotel Workers Rising campaign.
We also were part of a delegation to HEI headquarters in New Haven, CT! A representative from REC, along with a Yale student, a Unite Here organizer, and 2 HEI workers managed to get speak with Nigel Hurst, Senior VP of HEI.Carleton College | Active Ownership
A member of Carleton’s Committee on Investor Responsibility (CRIC) penned an op-ed
asking, “When you hear the word CRIC what usually comes to mind?”Harvard | Active Ownership
Responsible Investment at Harvard sent a student delegation to Jane Mendillo, President & CEO of Harvard Management Company.
In other exciting news Harvard students and alumni have independently invested the Fair Harvard Fund. Click here
for more info.
By Bakhtawar Chaudry
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When you hear the word CRIC what usually comes to mind? The chirping of crickets, a new noise in a comic book, or an organization of students, faculty and staff that advise the Board of Trustees on Carleton’s endowment and fights off crime everywhere. Well, it is the latter minus the crime fighting part. CRIC standing for Carleton Responsible Investment Committee has been running in Carleton for over eight years and has been advising the Board of Trustees on how to vote as certain issues arise in the Carleton Community. The committee meets once a week discussing and researching resolutions, organizations, events, and opportunities. The goal of CRIC is to be engaged by the Carleton Community, yet many people are unaware of the Organization and when they do become aware it takes awhile to understand the process. From endowments, resolutions and proxies CRIC can be a committee with a lot to understand; however, with enough communication the vision and goal of CRIC is apparent: projecting the community’s voice.
In my first meeting on CRIC I was extremely overwhelmed. Terms were being thrown such as resolutions, proxies and endowments. I got a clearer understanding of these terms as I observed and participated in meetings. For instance a resolution may be a fairly simple term. I mean we have resolutions all the time from New Year’s Day to our legislative body, but what is a resolution when it comes to investments and who creates them. Well, that would have to be shareholders. See what happens is a resolution is filed by an organization or an individual who has stock in the company. They become the lead filer and are joined by other shareholders as co-filers. Then these resolutions are automatically on a company’s proxy list which means they will be held for a vote at the shareholder’s meeting which is sometime in the Spring. Once these resolutions have been filed CRIC committee members receive an alert and track all the ones that come in. We then compile all the resolutions and decide which ones to present to the Board of Trustees for a “yes” vote. The number one factor in deciding how to proceed with a particular resolution is the voice of the Carleton Community. For instance we may receive a resolution asking a company to research alternative energy. We know that Carleton is an environmentally friendly campus therefore we know this is a good resolution that embodies Carleton’s values.
In fact it is the community’s voice that has caused CRIC to research and engage in activities that promote ethical and responsible investing. So far we have branched out to schools and organizations like the Responsible Endowment Coalition (REC). Through REC we are able to engage with other schools that hold our same values and share ideas in order to make the investment process more efficient. One idea we have gained from other schools, which is a big accomplishment for CRIC, is the proxy voting policy which already designates six categories that are very dear to Carleton and automatically gives a “yes” vote to the resolution falling under these categories. The six categories are Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goals, Hydraulic Fracturing (Toxic Chemicals), Executive Compensation (Say on Pay), Political Contributions, Separate Chair & CEO and Equal Employment Opportunity. This gives CRIC an opportunity to look for other issues that arise in the community bringing this voice to the Board of Trustees. However, the only way for this voice to be heard is through the involvement of the community.
Right now Carleton has an endowment of $640 million and we need the engagement of the Carleton community in order to figure out how to responsibly manage our endowment. CRIC has weekly meetings in which the community is more than welcome to sit in on and participate. For instance when researching resolutions community members can come and research with CRIC members directly advising the committee. Currently we have spots open for the Committee and we will be having an informational meeting so stay tuned for when this will happen and consider applying. For more information you can visit our website and check us out at http://apps.carleton.edu/governance/cric/
. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want more information about CRIC or have any questions. Remember it is your voice we are projecting so please help us make it heard!This essay was written for REC's Endowment Week of Action, and will be published next week in the Carleton school paper.
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The Coalition of Immokalee Workers
and allies send a message of solidarity with #March4th for Climate Justice.
The CIW is also currently marching - 200 miles - for farmworker justice. For more information, check out www.ciw-online.org.
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Vanderbilt students have a sit-in, encouraging their university to divest from EMVest. During the sit-in, students lead a teach-in on EMVest's "land grabs."
"Following ["land grab"] allegations, students, with support from the Oakland Institute and Responsible Endowment Coalition, met with administrators—who refused to take the issue seriously. After a long campaign, students took up direct action with sit-ins and a two-month long “tent city” in front of the administration building in May."
Another win for the endowment movement! Click here
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Macalester College (St. Paul, MN,) Unity College (Unity, ME), and Carleton College, (Northfield, MN), joined the growing chorus of institutions, investors, members of congress and citizens calling for Securities and Exchange Commission rulemaking. Over 470,000 comments have now been submitted in support of the petition to require companies to disclose to shareholders the use of corporate resources for political activities.
According to the letter from Macalester President Brian Rosenberg, if the SEC chooses to act on the Petition for Rulemaking, “Macalester College stands to gain the capacity to monitor more effectively the political activities of companies in which we hold shares through our institutional endowments, and thus discharge our responsibilities as a shareholder in a manner consistent with our institutional mission.”
Macalester, Unity, and Carleton, join The New School, whose Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility stated its support in October of 2012.
In his letter, Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College, the first college to divest from fossil fuels, described how fossil fuel companies spend money “to prevent the environmental regulation and political action on climate change that [Unity] supports.”
Macalester student Zhe Yu Lee, who helped recommend this action to Macalester’s president said, “For a flourishing democracy, young people and others must be able to understand which stakeholders are influencing the political process.”
Dan Apfel, Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition which has supported colleges working on this initiative as investors, explains that, “disclosure is particularly important for colleges and universities, which have a mission to support the public good and help develop engaged citizens. It is time for higher education to stand up and let its voice be heard on this crucial issue.”
“When the trustees agreed to endorse the SEC Petition, I felt that we were finally speaking for our future generations, who want to live in a country ruled by citizens, and not by corporations," said student Rafadi Hakim, who serves on Carleton College’s Responsible Investment Committee.
The letters from Macalester College and Unity College are available at http://www.sec.gov/comments/4-637/4-637.shtml
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By: Sachie Hopkins Hayakawa, Sally Bunner, and Lauren Ressler
March 4, 2013
Today is March 4th, 2013. On this day, hundreds of students across the country are marching forth for climate justice. Actions have taken place on campuses nationwide, including a banner drop at Haverford College, marches through the snow at Syracuse University and Middlebury College, creative engagement at Yale University and Mt. Holyoke College, and many more are planned throughout the day. On a surprising note, Hampshire’s president Jonathan Lash snapped a photo with students wearing the orange square as his first public endorsement of fossil fuel divestment.
In the last year, fossil fuel divestment campaigns have sprung up on over 250 campuses nationally. However, as we move forward, we are expanding our scope beyond divestment and taking strides towards a just and inclusive climate movement. This means learning from the histories of those communities who have been confronting the dirty energy industry for decades, building coalitions with those who are most impacted by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, and fostering local acts of resistance and solidarity.
Today, as students take action across the country, many of us will be wearing orange squares pinned to our chests. We have chosen to wear this symbol in solidarity with other student power movements internationally — most notably the Quebec Student Movement.
The red square of the Quebec Student Movement draws its origins from “carrément dans le rouge,” meaning “squarely in the red,” and refers to the condition of students trapped by immense debt. The red square was embraced by the 2005 student strike in Canada and became a symbol of solidarity for the student movement globally that signifies a belief in free education. “Institutional memory is critical to cultivating a lasting student power movement with graduation an ever present reality; sharing this symbol and the story of how this has grown is deeply a part of building that”, reflects Anthony Garoufalis-Auger a student from Concordia University, in Montreal.
In Quebec in 2012, as students marched through the streets, businesses would hang red squares in their front windows and many community allies wore them publicly. It is a powerful visibility tool that has become nearly ubiquitous in Canada and has fostered a sense of collective identity.
Quebec students emphasize that it requires few resources to produce and is comprised of readily accessible materials. That being said, last year Quebec stores ran out of red fabric and cloth as the movement spread from classrooms to community spaces.
We have chosen the color orange, rather than green, to reframe our movement’s scope as much larger than an environmental issue. This is not a single-issue movement. This is a space where environmental justice, climate justice, and economic justice have come into contact. We understand that we will not win the fight against the dirty energy industry without confronting racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression in our movement spaces.
The climate movement is still a young movement, but we understand our historical responsibility on an international scale.
“When we talk about the 11 or so million people who are undocumented, we need to remember that they’re mostly from the Global South. They have been divested of their language, their land, their wealth, and their climate by the global north. Migration under those circumstances in normal. Global south migration to the global north is the direct consequence of climate debt,” said Aura Bogado at last week’s student divestment convergence.
We are stronger as a movement when we recognize and celebrate the breadth of identities among us. The future of all our communities are bound together; tackling a problem of this magnitude requires both reciprocal communication and collaborative action.
We must create a culture that breaks down systems of oppression while building up our collective power.
If this symbol of the orange square resonates with you, we urge you to claim it as your own. However, there are many signs of this collective struggle and we embrace all that speak for climate justice. Come to this struggle as you are, and join us as we work to create a just and thriving future.
Photo Credit: Sachie Hopkins Hayakawa and Zein Nakhoda