Alumni for Dartmouth Divestment: An open Letter of support for fossil fuel divestment

Dear President Hanlon, the Board of Trustees & the Advisor Committee on Investor Responsibility,

We, as Alumni for Dartmouth Divestment, are writing to urge you to move forward on divestment of Dartmouth’s portfolio from fossil fuel companies. We understand that current Dartmouth students are working with the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility to complete a report on this issue. We are awaiting your response and action. As concerned alumni we are diverting our Annual Fund donations to the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund, where they will be held until Dartmouth divests. We add our voices to the students’ in support of divestment.

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"Divestment and a People’s Crisis"

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A post from Colorado College student organizer Ben Criswell and Colorado College alum Chris Edmonds, class of 2014. 

Our congressional delegation is one of the least productive in history, and its approval ratings linger below cockroaches and Nixon during Watergate. But when pushed hard enough, Congress does act out of necessity. When committed to an outcome, Congress has has bailed out Wall Street, protected Social Security, and allocated billions abroad attempting to police the world.

President Obama declared “no challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change” in January’s State of the Union; still, Congress contests anthropogenic climate change. Last year’s Pentagon report states that climate change is an immediate threat to national security through terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages; still, our representatives recklessly deny the facts.

We know that if we accept our lawmakers’ deficient agenda and stick with “business-as-usual,” global warming will change everything about our world. Major cities will drown, ancient cultures will be washed away by the ocean, and nearly all forms of life will have to cope with extreme droughts and violent storms. And all we have to do to bring about this future is nothing. We just have to continue to deny this full-blown climate crisis and invest in the fossil fuel industry.

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Changing Times: Multi-Campus Coalition and Alumni Mobilization Advance Fossil Fuel Divestment

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Students around the world are rising and we will no longer accept silence. Today, the Investure Schools Coalition for Fossil Fuel Divestment sent a letter to each of our colleges’ presidents requesting a meeting between administrators and representatives from our divestment campaigns. We are sending this letter in conjunction with the National Alumni Escalation for Fossil Fuel Divestment and are requesting that our presidents respond by the culmination of Harvard Heat Week for Fossil Fuel Divestment on April 17th.

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Colorado College has a new Responsible Endowments Fund!

By Anna Kelly

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Photo credit: Veronica Spann.

This morning, the Student Divestment Committee (SDC) will ask the Board of Trustees to reconsider divesting from fossil fuels. The group will present their most recent strategic move—the creation of a fund called the Colorado College Responsible Endowment Fund (CCREF) which collects donations from alumni that are contingent on the Board’s divestment by 2016.

This is not the first time that the subject has been brought to the board, but this time the SDC is bringing a carrot instead of a stick. This action is, for the SDC, an escalation of efforts after what they see as dismissive responses from the Board to other tactics.

“We have tried to come at this problem from all angles,” said Ben Criswell, a junior student leader for the SDC. “So now we’re trying to talk in dollars and cents with this initiative and show that our students and our alumni are willing to put money behind their sentiment and really walk the walk of this thing.”

The SDC has raised over $5,000 since the endowment fund was initiated on February 4th. As of Tuesday night, 17 people have donated.

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REC Hosts Prison Divestment Campaign Steering Meeting

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On Friday, February 13th, REC got to host the National Private Prison Divestment Campaign steering committee at our downtown Brooklyn office. Along with our dear friends at Enlace, we were honored to share our space with folks from Grassroots Leadership, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

In addition to eating some delicious Thai food and sharing some really decadent cheesecake for Ian's 24th birthday (thanks Lauren!), we were able to get to down and dirty crafting a plan for the next four months of the Campaign.

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Students Flood Smith College President’s Office with Singing Valentine Calling for Divestment

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February 13, 2015

Northampton, MA -  30 singing students flooded into Smith College President Kathleen McCartney’s office today to deliver a Valentine’s Day card signed by over 100 members of the student body to demand the college divest from fossil fuels.

Divest Smith College was joined by the a capella group The Notables to deliver the singing Valentine and card. “Please divest our endowment fund! Put big oil on the run! Wind and solar will get us through! We’re breaking up with fossil fuels!” they sang as they entered College Hall.

 “President McCartney has not come out in favor of or against divesting our endowment from fossil fuels. We’re asking her to “be our Valentine” by accepting our card and publicly supporting divestment on Valentine’s Day,” said Callie Sieh ‘18J, a member of Divest Smith College.

 “Smith College’s investments must reflect the values of the College. With 82.4% of the student body and over 85% of the student Senate in support of divestment from fossil fuels, the current investment strategy is clearly in opposition to the position of our student body,” said Eleanor Adachi ‘17, an outreach leader for the group.

 Divest Smith College advocates for investment standards that will establish Smith College as a model for an economically viable, socially proactive, and environmentally committed institution. The campaign calls on Smith College to (1) freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and (2) commit now to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

 

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College Alumni: Time to Make Fossil Fuels History

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Today, Responsible Endowments Coalition is proud to be part of the first-ever Global Divestment Day of Action.  After less than four years, campaigns around the world are now engaging in simultaneous creative action to pressure their colleges, churches, city and state pension funds, and institutions to move their money out of the fossil fuel industry.  This day represents the growing call to dismantle the political and economic stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. 

Students have been at the forefront of the fossil fuel divestment since its inception and remain a powerful force steering the movement, as evidenced by the growth of Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network and the spread of campaigns to over 400 campuses around the world. Today, students at Middlebury College are staging a tug-of-war between students and fossil fuel industry executives. In New Jersey, Rutgers University students are staging a die-in to demand fossil fuel divestment. All across the United States and across the globe, student groups are mobilizing in response to the global call for fossil fuel divestment.

However, students are not the only ones with a stake in university fossil fuel divestment. Alumni have an integral part to play and are directly implicated in the unethical endowment practices of their alma maters. Colleges and universities prize the size of their endowments, and subsequently value alumni donor pools who contribute to their growth. Every time an alumna or alumnus makes a donation to the general capital fund of their alma mater, that money does not necessarily go to scholarships for needy students or to the budgets of struggling liberal arts departments. That money is often funneled into investments, some of which generate returns from the harmful extraction of fossil fuels or other business practices that put profit over people and planet. 

To alumni who have watched on--unsure of your role or your agency in this time of crisis--we assure you that you are needed and that you are capable of galvanizing change. There are a variety of ways that alumni can engage effectively to increase pressure on campaign targets.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Get to know student organizers at your alma mater.  They will be able to tell you most about what’s going on with the campaign on-campus and how you can best plug in. These can range from call-in days to alumni meetings with the board.

  2. Leverage your $$. Talk to student organizers about creating an alumni pledge to withhold donations to your alma mater until they commit to divest. Ask if they are using an escrow account as a tactic. If not, let them know about REC’s Responsible Endowments Fund.

  3. Make your voice heard. Publish an op-ed calling for divestment in local or national papers, write letters to the editor responding to oppositional articles about divestment, or call your university's president.  Alums can also serve as a megaphone to highlight student stories, so be sure to collaborate with student organizers. 
  4. Show up and take action.  If you can, participate in on-campus actions.  Take direction from student leaders on what role you should play.  Depending on the context, it may be powerful for alumni to participate in direct action and risk arrest. 

  5. Organize other alumni.  Utilize your network of alumni contacts and listservs to activate more people in support of divestment.  Phone bank for rallies and protests, speak at your reunions on the necessity of divestment, and organize fellow alumni to take action!

Students are gearing up for a spring semester of bold, strategic action and we encourage all alumni to get involved. Alumni support can go a long way in amplifying and legitimating student demands. We will need everyone on board to bring positive social change to our campuses and communities! 

If you are an alum who is supportive of student escalation and ready to take action this spring, sign your name here! If you want further support on how to engage with the divestment campaign at your alma mater or how to take strategic action as an alum, contact the Alumni Team at the Responsible Endowments Coalition! Email alumni@endowmentethics.org.

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The New School Divests!

This past Friday, President David Van Zandt published a message officially stating The New School’s decision to divest its endowment portfolio from fossil fuel companies, following a year and a half of student petitions, student senate resolutions, panels, and detailed divestment recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility.

This decision was a long time coming, but reflects the enormous commitment of students, faculty, staff, and other community members to push The New School to match its rhetoric about addressing climate change with a corresponding commitment to responsible investment. As PhD economics student Brandt Weathers commented, our university's actions are catching up to its progressive history.”

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College of the Marshall Islands Divests!

First College in the Pacific Islands Divests from Fossil Fuels

 By Charlie Wood, 350.org

 

MAJURO, 15th December 2014 -- As another set of uninspiring UN climate negotiations draws to a close in Lima, the fir st college in the Pacific Islands, the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI), has just voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuel companies.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands comprises over 1,000 small, low-lying islands that are home to almost 70,000 people. With rising tides and floods already submerging their homelands, the Marshallese people have a great deal to teach the world about what will happen if we do not take serious action on climate change.

“We need all of our friends and our colleagues in the Pacific Region and around the world to take note, spread the word and become leaders in this movement to divest from fossil fuels, said CMI President Carl Hacker.

“It is critical that our voices and our actions are taken into account as we move forward in discussions concerning climate change and the formulation of policies that will preserve our islands, our histories, our cultures and our ways of life. 

“The Pacific Region has to be a leading voice in raising this awareness and do what ever we can in our own home islands to walk the talk of divestment of fossil fuels and climate change. 

Responding to the news, 350.org Australia’s CEO Blair Palese said: “As world governments dither over serious action to reduce emissions, those living on the frontline of climate impacts are taking the leadership that the world needs. Despite overwhelming evidence of the damage caused by the fossil fuel industry and despite sustained pressure from student campaigners, many first world universities still invest in fossil fuels.

“Yet here is a university in one of the most climate change exposed countries in the world, who has contributed the least to the problem, showing real climate leadership by divesting from the industry driving the climate crisis. We commend CMI and encourage other universities to follow in their footsteps,” commented Palese.

CMI’s decision makes it one of the first colleges in the Pacific Region to divest, following New Zealand's Victoria University, which committed to divest from fossil fuels in early November, and the Australian National University, which divested from two fossil companies in early October.

 

 Media Enquiries:

Charlie Wood: charlie@350.org.au +61 427 485 233

Carl Hacker: chacker@cmi.edu 692-625-3394

Ian Trupin: ian@endowmentethics.org 615-584-5658

 

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Mainland colleges have a lot to learn from the Marshall Islands!

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is comprised of over 1,000 small, low-lying islands that are home to almost 70,000 people. With rising tides already eroding their homeland, the Marshallese people have a lot to tell the world about what will happen if we do not take serious steps to address climate change and its root causes.

For over a month and a half, REC has been in contact with Carl Hacker, the President of the College of the Marshall Islands, regarding campus efforts to divest the College's endowment from fossil fuels.

If they succeed, they could be one of the first colleges in the Pacific Region to divest, following New Zealand's Victoria University, which committed to divesting fossil fuels earlier this month, and Australian National University, which divested stock in seven extraction companies in October. They will also be sending a very powerful message to other colleges and universities worldwide, highlighting the moral imperative to take action.

In Mr. Hacker's own words:

We need all of our friends and our colleagues in the Pacific Region and around the world to take note, spread the word and become leaders in this movement to divest from fossil fuels.  It is critical that our voices and our actions are taken into account as we move forward in discussions concerning climate change and the formulation of policies that will preserve our islands, our histories, our cultures and our ways of life.  The Pacific Region has to be a leading voice in raising this awareness and do whatever we can in our own home islands to walk the talk of divestment of fossil fuels and climate change. 

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