A Snowballing Campaign

by Arturo Watts, Fairfield University

My journey began with a spark of interest and an idea from REC.  What if colleges across the country used their $350 Billion dollars of investing power to change the name of the financial game-investing only in businesses with a commitment to social and environmental justice?  Thinking about all of that power for good got me started on a journey that has changed me, and that I hope will help to change the world.

My movement at Fairfield University is beginning to snowball, and each month my definition of success grows.  I began the year from scratch, having conversations with anyone interested-trying to convince them to join me in this work.  Success, then, was a nod of the head and a simple “hmm, sounds cool.”  A few weeks later it felt like a success to run a meeting with 4 other students, simply talking about the nature of responsible investment and teaching members key terms.  By mid October, we had a group of 10 students with an understanding of the territory and with weekly meetings the movement seemed to be snowballing and gaining strength.  The definition of success has slowly grown and I’m excited to see how long the snowball will continue to accelerate.

In early November we crafted a community investment proposal and presented it to one of our administrators, and I’m happy to say she was very receptive.   We have been given the opportunity to discuss this in more detail with the Board of Trustees during their meeting in March, and we are using the months in the meantime to grow our movement.

We are working to educate our campus community, while strengthening our base.  We created the Proactive Investment Club, or PIC, and our group of students suddenly felt a great deal more official.  We created a facebook page, and a PIC email address, while further educating ourselves by reading REC materials between meetings.

We then set out organizing an event on campus to increase awareness.  We decided that we wanted to keep our message positive; it made more sense in a conservative culture to get mobilize students around developing our communities with local banking, rather than tearing down mega banks.

In this spirit, we got together a group of 13 students to simultaneously open savings accounts at a local credit union.  We used this occasion to generate some media attention with local news mediums, and we took plenty of pictures at the event to preserve the power we created.  We intend to widely publicize this symbolic action to show our university administration that we strongly support community investment, and we want to work together to make it happen.

I am thrilled to be working on a growing movement, and excited by the possibilities ahead.  Our prominence and our list of allies continue to grow-now including members from several student groups and key faculty.  The future is looking brighter each day and I’m seeing what it looks like to combine goals and grit.  Much, much more to come from PIC and the Fairfield University front-so stay tuned as our movement grows.

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