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.
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.
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.
"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 for more.
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/
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
This kind of coordinated action wouldn’t have been possible without serious student organizing. It has been one of the most inspiring experiences we have had here at Vanderbilt to see the amount of commitment our fellow students and friends put into the campaign because they cared about our impact on the rest of the world.
Harvard University, which often faces pressure from students and alumni to shed controversial investments, has agreed to create a senior position at its investment management arm to consider the environmental, social, and corporate governance aspects of its holdings.
This decision comes after a series of victories by the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition. Here's a bit of what The Harvard Crimson is reporting, including the reactions of student organizers:
Two weeks ago, five students met with members of the Harvard Corporation to discuss the details of the social choice fund, and earlier this week, a referendum to seed the social choice fund with money from Harvard’s endowment passed with 93 percent support of Harvard Kennedy School student voters.
Student members of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, which was involved in coordinating the two student referendums, expressed cautious optimism about the creation of the new HMC position.
“We were in general really pleased to see that the HMC is formally considering [environmental, social, and governance issues],” said Kevin S. Wang ’16, the investments and faculty coordinator of the Coalition.
Similarly, S. Krishna Dasaratha ’13, the Coalition’s treasurer, praised the move as an “indicator” that the University is listening to a rising chorus of student concerns about Harvard’s investment.
However, Wang and Dasaratha both said that the creation of the position, which primarily entails research on sustainable investment, does not necessarily mean that Harvard will commit to adjusting its investment strategies.
In the hopes of compelling HMC to change its investment practices, Wang said, “We’re pushing for action.”
Moving Oberlin’s Money
In northeast Ohio, Oberlin College students from the Responsible Investing Organization are campaigning for community investment of college funds—and showing that endowment activism isn’t just about divestment. Along with Oberlin’s Student Finance Committee, RIO proposed and saw passed in December the Oberlin College and Community Investment Plan, a resolution to annually invest a percentage of the $1.2 million in the college’s Student Activity Fund as certificates of deposit with a local credit union. In September, RIO launched its "Break Up With Your Bank” campaign, an ongoing initiative to educate Oberlin students about financial institutions and encourage them to switch from big banks to local credit unions. Students are currently organizing a policy symposium for this spring that would bring together trustees, administrators and students to work together to write a comprehensive responsible investment policy, including community input and accountability.
—Responsible Investing Organization
Click here to read the other student dispatches from The Nation.