Two Years Later: Remembering Sandy

During the week of October 28, 2012, the New York and New Jersey region was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, a storm that displaced people from their homes, crippled entire communities, and took the lives of 117 people in the United States. Two years later, the REC staff looks back and reflects on the storm and its lasting legacy on our work and our lives. 


Hurricane Sandy was a scary time for me because my family out in Coney Island lost power for over a week after the storm. Sandy was a wake up call for New Yorkers that we definitely are not exempt from the impact of climate change. On the second anniversary of the storm I think it’s important that we dwell on what happened but also how we can be holistically rebuilding this city in a way that doesn’t drive out people of low income and working class backgrounds.



(image: John Huntington/



During Hurricane Sandy I was living in Providence, RI. Though the storm was not as strong that far up the coast as it was in New York and New Jersey, the coastline of Rhode Island was nevertheless severely battered. I remember walking through some of the strongest rain I've ever seen. Later, visiting family and friends in northern New Jersey I learned more first hand about the devastation. It struck me how the storm brought out both the best and worst in terms of our society's response to climate change: denial, victim-blaming, and government unaccountability, but also unity, cooperation, and resilience among survivors.

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Responsible Endowments Coalition Stands in Solidarity with Ferguson and All People Resisting Systemic Racial Violence


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Today on Indigenous People’s Day, known in the mainstream as Columbus Day, we at the Responsible Endowments Coalition stand in solidarity with the people on the ground who are resisting police violence and the militarized policing of black and brown communities across the country--from St. Louis and Ferguson to Karnes and Beaver Creek. Just as Christopher Columbus seized native land and enslaved indigenous peoples hundreds of years ago, the same Western systems of domination continue to oppress and terrorize large swaths of the US population. As a student-driven organization guided by a vision of a world in which people are valued over profit, we are deeply saddened and outraged at the continued targeting of black and brown people by a militarized police state. We further realize and denounce private corporate interests that are heavily invested in the incarceration of poor people of color, from the excessive arming of domestic police forces to the maintenance of private prison facilities and detention centers.

In August, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was brutally murdered by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Since Brown’s murder, many others have fallen victim to police violence, including teenager Vonderitt Myers Jr. who was shot in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis four days ago. Eyewitnesses claim that Myers was holding a sandwich and not a gun as police contend. The deaths of Brown and Myers cannot be understood in a vacuum. The criminalization of black and brown communities are directly profiting the institutions charged with serving the interests of those very same communities. ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-area public defender group, released a report revealing that fines and court fees made up the second largest source of revenue in Ferguson and that 86 percent of vehicle stops “involved a black motorist, although blacks make up just 67 percent of the population.” Additionally, more and more cities and states are privatizing prisons to cut upfront costs but have in turn contributed to the dramatic rise in incarceration and detention in the United States. More than 60 percent of the prison population is black or Latino even though those groups only make up 30 percent of the general population.

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The Private Prison Bed Quota and Immigrant Justice: An interview with Donald Anthonyson

REC Summer Interns sat down with Donald Anthonyson, a veteran organizer with Families for Freedom. We interviewed him about the federal prison bed quota and how non-citizens are being targeted under its decree. Read on for an in-depth conversation about the prison industrial complex, immigrant justice, and the predators and prey within our current crisis of mass incarceration. 

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Q&A with Eric Sturm

More student profiles! In this bite-sized Q&A with Eric Sturm, we find out what he's been up to at NYU and what his particular path looks like in the fight against mass incarceration. 

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Student Group Profile: Students Against Peabody

Student Group Profile: Wash U Students Against Peabody

This post kicks off a new move by REC to profile student groups around the country putting in great organizing work for social and environmental justice. Below is the bullet-points version-- to reach the longform version just follow the Read More link at the bottom. Also, if you know of any groups that you want to see featured on here let us know with an email to

Their issues:

  • Greg Boyce, Chairman and CEO of Peabody Energy sits on their Washington University Board of Trustees

  • The Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, a research entity with a deceitful name and sponsored by three major coal companies has existed on their campus since 2008

  • Peabody Energy, a fossil fuel company with a heinous track record of human rights abuses and environmental degradations has a close relationship with their institution of higher education

What they’ve been up to this past May 2014:

What they’re generally all about:

  • removing big­moneyed interests from college campuses

  • opposing and working to reverse the gross injustices committed by Peabody Energy

  • using social media and student privilege to elevate voices from frontliner communities

  • maintaining their long­standing involvement with residents from Black Mesa, and the groups Take Back St. Louis, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment

  • A student group that puts collective liberation into action



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Thanks to Dan for 5 Years of Leadership!

Dan at REC's 10th Anniversary
As we welcome our talented new Executive Director, Marcie Smith, to the Responsible Endowments Coalition this month, we are also sending off an extraordinary colleague. On behalf of the board, I want to recognize Dan Apfel and express our deep gratitude for his leadership and many accomplishments as REC’s Executive Director.

For five years, Dan has helped bring together students and campus communities to harness the power of institutional endowments to support sustainability and social justice.

Under Dan’s leadership, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, working with our partners, has made substantial headway. We have worked with students to build a network that can respond to urgent issues like land grabs in Africa and the Koch Brothers trying to buy the LA Times. We have had major shareholder victories at JPMorgan Chase and Sallie Mae. And we have supported and incubated - with training, organizing, and expertise - the growth of the fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment movement on campus, which has spread to over 400 U.S. campuses.

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BCD Responds to ACSRI’s Refusal of Support


(Reposted from BWOG:

The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) said two days ago that the proposal of Barnard Columbia Divest (BCD) for divestment from fossil fuels “did not meet the criteria for divestment.” According to their response (which can be read in full here), ACSRI will not recommend BCD’s divestment proposal because “the merits of the case are not clearly on one side, nor are [they] sure that Columbia’s divestment would send a signal more powerful than engagement [with fossil fuel companies]. Below is the response of BCD to the ACSRI’s decision:

“We cannot ban the burning of fossil fuels overnight. Triggering the change will likely take changes in government policy, in private investment priorities, and the civic engagement of a globalized society,” wrote the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) as they declined to trigger the change by being leaders in a national movement to divest university endowments from the fossil fuel industry.

The flawed and self-contradictory document that the ACSRI published on Wednesday is reflective of the nature of the committee itself and its treatment of the fossil fuel divestment proposal that Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (BCD) first brought to them in November 2013. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of individual members, the structure of the ACSRI prevents it from responding with the urgency this situation requires.


I. The clock is ticking

International climate agreements designate 2ºC as the ‘safe’ upper threshold of warming the world would be able to withstand. Fossil fuel companies have and plan to burn five times as much carbon as would get us to the limit, for the purpose of continuing to be the most profitable industry in history. The next major climate summit is happening in Paris in December 2015, but the UN process has yet to be successful in lowering global GHG emissions. A large section of the West Antarctic ice sheet collapsed this week. According to the International Energy Agency, we will spend our ‘carbon budget’ within sixteen years. Time is running out.

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Stanford Commits to Coal Divestment

Fossil Free Stanford Statement On 
Coal Divestment 
May 6, 2014 

Press Contact: 
Michael Peñuelas (, 206.218.4345)

Yari Greaney (, 530.646.9118) 

Faculty can also be contacted through Michael or Yari     
Originally posted here: 

Today, the climate movement won a groundbreaking victory. In a striking acknowledgement of the need for a bold and immediate response to climate change, Stanford University is divesting from the coal industry.

The Stanford endowment, valued at $18.7 billion, will now become the largest in a growing group of funds to partially divest from fossil fuels.
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Dramatic Unveiling Produces Meeting with President at NYU

A group of students, faculty, and staff have been requesting a meeting with New York University President John Sexton for over a year. What finally made him give in? 1500 petition signatures and 300 feet of paper.

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Big Victory for Pitzer!

 After a year and a half of campaigning, Pitzer students have won the most comprehensive divestment plan yetAmong many other initiatives, Pitzer has now pledged to:

  • Divest their endowment from fossil fuels by the end of this year

  • Incorporate environmental and social governance factors into their investment decisions

  • Start a Pitzer Sustainability Fund to reinvest in environmental and community projects

  • Target a 25% reduction in the college's carbon footprint by the end of 2016

  • Create a Campus Sustainability Taskforce

You can find the full plan here.

Claremont Colleges Call for Fossil Fuel Divestment


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