Members of the Class of 2016 sent an email to their fellow graduates last month, calling on them to protest the Board’s refusal to divest from fossil fuels by withholding contributions to the traditional “class gift.” The result was the smallest class gift donation in recent memory, and a powerful rebuke to the college from its newly-minted alumni. Here is the text of their email:
Dear Class of 2016,
You have all recently received emails from the Senior Gift Committee. We would like to ask that you first consider a number of concerns with this program.
Divest Carleton would like to urge you to stand against Carleton’s fossil fuel investments and withhold your senior gift. The college has deliberately chosen to invest part of its endowment in direct holdings in major fossil fuel companies. These companies have a strong influence on our national government and continually pump out misinformation campaigns to keep the public from uniting to tackle climate change. They further take advantage of their political power to harm and exploit the communities in which they do business. By keeping these stocks, the college is consenting to the actions of fossil fuel companies and endorsing an economy based on unsustainable forms of energy.
For this reason, we are asking you not to contribute a senior gift to Carleton College. Instead, send a message that you will not support Carleton’s decision to make investments that threaten the ecological well-being of our planet. Our hope is that this year’s senior gift has the lowest participation rate of any year in the recent past. In this way, we, the class of 2016, can deliver a clear message that the college is acting out of line with students’ values, and we won’t be satisfied until the college ends its explicit support of an industry destroying our environment and exploiting marginalized communities around the world.
With these concerns in mind, we would like to highlight that this is a complex issue and there are a number of ways donating to Carleton, especially in the form of a contribution to financial aid, that can positively impact current and future students. It is not our intent to cause an increase in tuition or a decrease in aid which is essential for many students. That being said, the senior gift is primarily a symbolic measure, and the administration seeks high participation both to demonstrate the support of its students and to add them to its donor pool. If you would like to support divestment by withholding a senior gift and at the same time donate to the financial aid fund, you can simply go this link and make a normal donation: https://apps.carleton.edu/giving/
If you would like to withhold your senior gift to the college or restrict it solely to financial aid, then consider sending an email to the Senior Gift Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org
). Below are two templates which you can use or adjust as you see fit.
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TEMPLATE 1: GIFT WITHHELD
Dear Senior Gift Committee,
I, a member of the Carleton class of 2016, am choosing to withhold my senior gift this year. I have made this decision because the Carleton administration and Board of Trustees have made official decisions and statements which are perpetuating the existence of the fossil fuel industry and working against the international climate justice movement. This issue is one of the greatest challenges my generation faces and for this reason I will not show support for Carleton in the form of a senior gift.
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TEMPLATE 2: GIFT RE-DIRECTED
Dear Senior Gift Committee,
I, a member of the Carleton class of 2016, am choosing to mark my donation explicitly for financial aid at Carleton because I support all students from all backgrounds receiving this education. However, I am also marking my gift exclusively for financial aid use because the Carleton administration and Board of Trustees persist in holding investments in fossil fuel companies. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges my generation faces and for this reason I will not contribute to an endowment that is invested in fossil fuels.