REC Supports Columbia University Occupation of Low Library #TimesUpCU

 

Photo from Columbia Divest for Climate Justice Facebook page

Photo from Columbia Divest for Climate Justice Facebook page

The Responsible Endowments Coalition supports the students of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) on the fifth day of Low Library's occupation.

The fossil fuel industry drives the climate crisis, exploits and oppresses communities along its entire supply chain, and has captured our political process by buying off our politicians. We commend Columbia Divest for Climate Justice for confronting their administration’s complicity in this destructive industry by demanding their university cut financial ties​ with the top 200 dirty energy companies.

President Bollinger must publicly recommend full fossil fuel divestment to Columbia’s board of trustees, and have the University divest its British Petroleum and ExxonMobil shares.

We applaud CDCJ for organizing and mobilizing students, alums, and faculty at Columbia University. Low Library’s occupation by CDCJ is an incredible show of student power and discipline. REC sees students demanding #endowmentjustice as the first step campuses are taking across the nation to ultimately turn to a cooperative economy powered by democratically controlled renewable energy. REC will continue to support these campaigners until all CDCJ’s demands are met and Columbia University is fossil free!

Support this action and Columbia Divest for Climate Justice by sending donations directly to student activists here.

#TimesUpCU #endowmentjustice

 

 

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Marcie Smith in The Nation this week

"Marcie Smith, Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, calls this a 'rage-inducing picture.' 'Universities raking in a record $40 billion in 2015, Wall Street stacked boards of directors approving self-dealing investments, all while tuition continues to rise, student debt continues to mount, and value of a college degree declines,' she says. 'The state of higher education is yet another example of austerity in America, and signals the dangerous creep of a free market fundamentalism that thinks all institutions in society exist to enrich the bankers.'

This week, REC's Executive Director, Marcie Smith is quoted in The Nation in Astra Taylor's article, "Universities Are Becoming Billion-Dollar Hedge Funds With Schools Attached." Check it out and share!

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 (AP Photo / Elise Amendola, File)

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REC Supports VA Students - #RepealThePermits !

17 students were arrested at the Department of Environmental Quality in Richmond, VA.  We must do everything in our power to ensure that Dominion Energy is not be permitted to dump coal ash into Quantico Creek on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

Police begin arrests at DEQ in Richmond - Image credit Z. Kronemer 

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STAND WITH VA: No To Dominion Energy Dumping Coal Ash in Virginia Waters

For over a decade, Dominion Energy, the largest energy utility company in Virginia, has been dumping tonnes of coal ash into Quantico Creek--a tributary of the Potomac River. They have been contaminating this prime source of drinking water, which services Virginians in 39 counties and 16 cities.

VSEC holds DOMINION PROFITS at local action

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Land is Life, Existence As Resistance: Reflections on Solidarity Trip to the Philippines

This week, some 133 indigenous survivors of Typhoon Pablo returned to their mountain home in Compostela Valley, Mindanao—the southernmost island of the Philippines—after being forcibly evacuated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for over two weeks. Last month, I had the opportunity to integrate with this community as a delegate of the 2015 BAYAN USA peace mission. As a REC staff member, I joined the mission with the objective of learning more about the relationship of militarization and counterinsurgency with mining and resource extraction in the Philippines and other countries in the Global South. Little did I know that I was going to get a much closer look than I had expected.

The BAYAN USA Peace Mission was made up of eight US-based Filipino activists and two Palestinian youth organizers from the Palestinian Youth Movement. As international delegates, we were invited on a fact-finding mission to Side 4, Barangay Mangayon in Compostela Valley to document the conditions of the Lumads and distribute school supplies to the children. “Lumad” is used to refer to the 18 ethnolinguistic tribes of indigenous people living in Mindanao, one of the most mineralized places in the world with an estimated amount of $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral resources. The Lumads are at the forefront of the struggle against climate change and imperialist plunder in the Philippines, and have put up organizations to defend their ancestral lands. Because of their active resistance against large-scale logging, mining and plantation agriculture, the Lumad peoples have been subject to increasing state violence and human rights violations in recent years.

On November 24th, the night before our arrival to Side 4, the local organizers got word that the 66th IB of the Armed Forces of the Philippines had encamped outside the school in an empty house within the community. The organizers gave us an orientation on safety and conduct, but they were not fazed and encouraged us to stay in high spirits. They emphasized that our solidarity as international delegates was even more urgent given the situation. Throughout the trip, this sentiment presented itself time and time again—by being in the community and learning the conditions of the Lumad, our biggest contribution as international delegates is to bring back the stories to our own communities and expose the truth of the Lumads’ plight to the rest of the world.

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BAYAN USA Peace Mission delegates and one of our local organizers from Mindanao during our six-hour trek to the Salugpongan School

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Prison Divestment Toolkit

With our community partners, REC co-authored Private Prison Divestment: A Toolkit for Campus Organizers.  Check it out!

This toolkit provides a step-by-step guide on how you as a student body can organize to  dismantle the PIC by organizing a divestment campaign on your campus. We explain why divestment is critical to overcoming the profit driven criminal and immigration systems and the mechanics of getting your university to divest. We feature a case study on the historic divestment victory at Columbia University that will inform and inspire your strategy. GEO Group (GEO) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) are driving the mass incarceration of people of color in the U.S., and internationally with G4S. In the U.S., these for profit prison companies have successfully lobbied for policies that lock Black and Brown bodies  behind bars, with our tax dollars paying private companies to keep them there. With the financial assistance of their major investors, CCA and GEO will continue to lobby for policies  that fuel mass incarceration and the mass detention of immigrants. By taking on private  prisons, we are able to strategically target a cornerstone of the PIC.


This toolkit is provided by the Private Prison Divestment Campaign, an effort coordinated by Enlace. 

Prison Divestment Toolkit Cover

 

 

 

 

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Oberlin Students and Alumni Demand Accountability, Not Corporate Criminal Trustees

In the wake of the revelation last week that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed financial fraud charges against Oberlin Trustee and Investment Committee Chair Thomas Kutzen, students from Oberlin's Responsible Investing Organization and Oberlin Alumni for a Responsible Endowment issued the following statement condemning the corporatization of the university and calling for greater transparency and value alignment in Oberlin's process for selecting new trustees.

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Victory! Columbia Divests Private Prisons

Just yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call I’d been anticipating for months. It was Asha Rosa, one of the co-founders of Columbia Prison Divest, a campaign REC has worked with since mid-2013. She was calling to let me know that the Board of Trustees had just publicly announced their decision to divest all of Columbia’s holdings in private prison companies, and to enact a negative screen to prevent any future investments in the private prison industry.

This is the first time in history that an institution of higher education has committed to divesting its holdings the private prison industry.

When a group of Columbia students of color first marched into President Bollinger’s office in February 2014 to demand (among other things) that the University drop $10 million dollars in direct holdings in private prison companies, there were only three active university prison divestment campaigns. Today there are more than a dozen campaigns, and our power is growing, from UCLA to Wesleyan College, and from University of Minnesota to University of Central Florida.

However, this momentum is about more than even colleges’ and universities’ immediate complicity in the prison industrial complex via investments. As Columbia Prison Divest organizer Dunni Oduyemi reflects:

"We targeted the university’s investments in two private prison companies, but we hope that private prison divestment campaigns, with the abolitionist vision of a larger anti-prison movement, can help us start working towards divesting from the idea that prisons equal justice, which we believe to be fundamentally racist.

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#PrisonDivest Allies Protest Marco Rubio in CT!

Last Thursday, I took the Metro North Train up from New York City to Stamford, Connecticut to protest Florida Senator and Republican 2016 presidential contender Marco Rubio.

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The protest, which was organized by a coalition of progressive and immigrant rights groups, took place outside the Stamford Hilton, where Rubio had been invited to speak as "guest of honor" at the Annual Prescott Award Dinner, a conservative fundraiser event.

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Alumni: Support Fossil Fuel Divestment at UMW!

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UPDATE: Two UMW students and one Fredericksburg resident were arrested on March for refusing to leave an administrative building at the culmination of a 21-day sit-in for fossil fuel divestment! See more on the story here


 

UMW Alumni,

Last month, hundreds of students from across the state marched on University of Mary Washington to support our call for divestment. Since then, students in Virginia have tripled the number of campaigns on their campuses calling for divestment.

The UMW board rejected their proposal to move forward on divestment -- but the students aren't taking no for an answer. Instead, 12 days ago, we launched a sit-in to ask the UMW Board of Visitors #whoseside are you on?

Numerous school leaders, including BOV Rector Holly Cuellar, have said they agree we must combat climate change but disagree on means to do so. Because of the urgency of our fight, we need to use all the tools we have to fight for climate justice.

UMW students know that this is a historic time in the divestment movement. Swarthmore launched a sit-in two weeks ago on their campus as a strategic escalation in the 5th year of their campaign for divestment from fossil fuels. This escalation kicked off a series of coordinated actions across the nation with the Divestment Student Network, and a pledge to escalate with nonviolent direct action from hundreds of other students.

By saying “no” to divestment, schools have chosen to turn their backs on our generation, and side with a rogue industry whose business plan is incompatible with a just and stable world. UMW students have exhausted all other options, and know that nonviolent direct action is the only way to force Rector Cuellar and the BOV back to the negotiation table.

As we near the two-week mark of the sit-in, we’re beginning to see tangible progress. We need the support of our campus community more than ever. We’ll be focusing on drawing in support from alumni and faculty this week to further isolate the BOV and administration. As alumni,here’s six ways you can support and stand with us:

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