Divest Carleton alumni letter to President Byerly and Carleton Trustees

April 27, 2022 

Dear President Byerly and Carleton Trustees: 

As the alumni of Divest Carleton, we echo the support for an official Carleton plan for fossil fuel divestment expressed by Divest Carleton students and the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC). Below are our additional thoughts on how the College might implement such a plan and why we believe fossil fuel divestment is in Carleton’s best interest and aligns with its values. 

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BIG NEWS! Carleton Board to consider divestment this May. PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

Carleton’s Board of Trustees meets May 12-14, and for the first time in many years, divesting Carleton’s endowment from fossil fuels is on the agenda. Divest Carleton needs your help to demonstrate the broad support this issue has from alumni and students.

We’re asking divestment supporters to send an email (or letter, if you can) to key decision makers in advance of the meeting. Your personal, heartfelt message is the most effective way to show the Board that Carleton has prepared us to “lead lives of learning” and “to be of service to humanity.” And in service to humanity, we urge the Board to ensure that Carleton’s $1.1 billion endowment is secured in investments that are aligned with the values Carleton instills in its students.

Send your messages to:

Sample message:

My name is _____, and I am (an alum / a student) of the class of ___. I am writing to request that you support divesting Carleton’s endowment from fossil fuel companies.

I feel strongly that it’s time for Carleton to follow many of its peer institutions and publicly commit to divesting from companies that extract and exploit fossil fuels. 

The burden of climate change falls hardest on citizens of the developing world and the young. In other words, on those who have done the least damage. This makes climate change a human rights issue on an almost unimaginable scale, and it demands immediate and forceful action.

>>This is a great spot to insert a message on your personal experiences with climate change. Among our students and alumni, we have people whose lives have been touched by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and drought, events that have been exacerbated by climate change. Let the Board know that this is not abstract for you.

Thank you very much for considering this issue. Carleton needs to bring its investment policy in line with the values demonstrated by its commitment to a carbon-neutral campus. I believe that divestment from fossil fuels is the right choice for the future of Carleton’s endowment and will help ensure a better planet for current and future graduating classes.

Sincerely,

Your signature

It Is Time to Be on the Right Side of Climate Change History

Published in The Carletonian on March 1, 2022

By Patrick Dunlevy, Rebecca Hahn, Mindy Bell, Joshua Rabinowitz, Ben Stiegler, Pam Costain, Gina Atwood, Eleanor Haase and Karl Snyder

The following is a letter from Divest Carleton Alumni, a group of alumni calling for Carleton to divest their endowment from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies:

The following colleges and universities have made formal commitments to reduce their investments in fossil fuel companies. The schools are grouped below by the time period in which they announced their decisions regarding fossil fuel holdings.

2021

Amherst College

Boston University

Brandeis University

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Letter to President Byerly prior to meeting

In September 2021, Divest Carleton alumni leadership sent the new Carleton president a letter requesting a meeting to discuss our concerns, which resulted in an online call between the president and alumni and student leaders. Here is that letter:

Dear President Byerly,

On behalf of the Alumni of Divest Carleton, welcome to Northfield! We hope you have had a good summer settling in and are looking forward to the 2021-2022 school year. No doubt you will find much to love at Carleton, as we did during our years as students. We wish you success in meeting the challenges of your new position.

The challenge of special concern to us is Carleton’s response to the risks associated with the continued use of fossil fuels. As an alumni group with more than 2600 members from 70 unique graduating classes, we would like to set up a call with you and a few of our members before the end of October so that we can further explain our concerns and answer any questions you might have. For now, in brief, here is an overview of our group.

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Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson calls for divestment in convocation

At Carleton’s May 21, 2021, convocation, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson made an explicit appeal for Carleton to divest its endowment from fossil fuels.

The college was celebrating the significant achievement of shutting off its steam heating plant and switching to its new geothermal system. Many congrats to everyone who has worked so hard to make that happen!

The moderator of the talk asked Dr. Johnson what Carleton’s next steps might be toward increasing sustainability. You can listen to her answer on Carleton’s convocation website, linked above, starting at 28:43. Or read the transcript of that exchange below:

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For many reasons, the time has come for Carleton to divest

By Maddie Halloran, Rebecca Hahn, Mindy Bell and Patrick Dunlevy on May 16, 2021 in The Carletonian

When the fossil fuel divestment movement began at Carleton almost a decade ago, few colleges or universities had committed to moving their endowments out of fossil fuels. By 2014, only two U.S. liberal arts colleges had made divestment pledges: College of the Atlantic and Pitzer College

But today, 10 U.S. liberal arts colleges have made divestment commitments, and not just smaller, environmental schools. Middlebury, Smith, and Wesleyan all committed to divestment within the last few years, and most recently both Amherst and Wellesley did the same.

Besides liberal arts colleges, Rutgers University, Columbia University, the University of Southern California, and Cambridge University have all made divestment commitments in the last few months. Midwest powerhouse University of Michigan committed to divestment this March.

This movement is growing, and Carleton is falling behind.

From a financial perspective, the writing is on the wall. In January of last year, Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money and the co-anchor of Squawk on the Street, announced:

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Divest Carleton from fossil fuels to save our school

By Rebecca Hahn, Maddie Halloran and Mindy Bell, on October 3, 2020

For weeks now, five of the six largest wildfires in California’s history have been burning, turning skies orange across the state. This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is already breaking records, with an unprecedented thirteen tropical storms named before September. 

In August, Iowa’s crops were devastated by a 100 mph derecho windstorm that flattened 10 million acres, followed by a subsequent drought. And of course, throughout the country, 200,000 people have died from a raging pandemic that has shut down the economy, cancelled sports and most other activities, and changed the way that our own Carleton College educates its students.

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