Divest Carleton Panel at Reunion 2019

Divest Carleton hosted a panel discussion in the Goodhue Superlounge that attracted 88 participants and generated great discussions.

Panel discussion in the Goodhue Superlounge during Reunion 2019

The panel was moderated by Joel Weisberg, professor of physics and astronomy. Panelists included Daniel Groll, professor of philosophy and the faculty co-chair of the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC); Aaron Swoboda, ’01, professor of environmental studies and economics; David Loy, ’69, author of Echodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis; Maddie Halloran, ’14, natural resources graduate student; and David Roizin, ’20, Divest Carleton student leader and economics major.

Divest Carleton is working to host another panel at the Reunion in June 2020. Contact Divest Carleton at divestcarleton@gmail.com if you would like to assist in our efforts!

Why Seven Liberal Arts Colleges Divested from Fossil Fuels

The worldwide movement to divest from fossil fuel companies is rapidly escalating. According to the Fossil Free campaign, 1055 institutions have committed to divesting $8.73 trillion, including seven U.S. News-ranked liberal arts colleges: College of the Atlantic, Warren Wilson, Northland, Pitzer, Lewis and Clark, Whitman, and most recently Middlebury, which shares Carleton’s ranking.

Considering this momentum, we compare the Carleton Board of Trustees’s stated reasons for refusing divestment with the reasoning of the seven liberal arts colleges.

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Every Carl for Divestment Campaign

In reply to the recent “Every Carl for Carleton” campaign, set to raise the college’s endowment to over $1 billion, alumni are enhancing pressure for the administration and board of trustees to divest from fossil fuels. The response campaign, “Every Carl for Divest,” intends to highlight Carleton’s moral ideals that the capital campaign advertises, the greater financial possibility of divestment with a larger endowment, and alumni involvement within the divest movement.


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Carleton Must Divest from Fossil Fuels

by Rebecca Hahn and Brett Smith

The support for Carleton to divest from fossil fuels has been high for years, and is only continuing to grow. This past reunion, the alumni Divest Carleton group collected over 300 additional signatures on its petition, for a total of over 1300. The student petition, as of 2017, listed over 1000 signatures. The recently formed Carls Talk Back movement also included divestment from fossil fuels in its list of demands.

Divest Carleton’s request is for the College to divest from all its fossil fuel holdings, including those commingled in the endowment. But the Board of Trustees hasn’t even taken the easy step of dropping its fossil fuel direct holdings. This is despite the near-unanimous recommendation by the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee in 2015 that it do so (a recommendation that the Board itself requested).

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Class of 2016 protests with “no class gift” call

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:

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Dr. David Loy returns his Honorary Degree in protest of the Board’s vote against divestment

Two years ago we posted the text of Dr. Loy’s speech on the occasion of the awarding of his degree.  He spoke eloquently then about the moral obligation to engage in the ecological challenges of  our time, and specifically called upon Carleton College to divest.  The Board has refused.  Here is the text of his letter delivered on Earth Day 2016.

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Divest Carleton Alumni Respond to the Board of Trustees

The alumni of Divest Carleton have sent this open response to the Board of Trustees regarding their vote to reject the recommendation of their responsible investing committee.  (The student response will come at the beginning of Winter Term, and we will post it here then.)

If you are interested in signing on to this response, just indicate that in the comments section.  As we use the response in future outreach, your name will be included.

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First response to the BOT vote:not with my money

Dear alumni supporter of Divest Carleton:
As you know, we have been working for three years to get the Board of Trustees to vote to divest from fossil fuels.  We have circulated petitions, done campus rallies, teach-ins and tabling at alumni events.  We’ve written letters in the Carletonian, and had articles written about us.  And we’ve made progress in moving the issue of divestment from the back burner to a focus of discussion in the Carleton community.
This fall, the Board’s own committee (Carleton Responsible Investment Committee, or CRIC) made a recommendation to the Board that they divest from direct holdings in fossil fuels.  (Read their recommendation here: http://apps.carleton.edu/governance/cric/divest/cricreport/). (Double click on the link and then click on the “Related Documents” box.)
On November 10, the Board of Trustees released their decision to reject CRIC’s recommendation and refuse to divest.  (You can read their response here: http://apps.carleton.edu/governance/cric/divest/boardresponse/)
We are not going to let the Board’s refusal be the last word.  We are going to continue to raise awareness of this issue and to take action toward it.  Look for lots of new, and more insistent, actions in the coming months.
You can help!
Right now, you are probably getting solicitations to contribute to the Annual Fund.  We are asking that you decline to contribute.  And not just that you decline, but that you send a note in that return envelope, saying why you decline.  It is important that Carleton know that they lose not only money on the bad investment in fossil fuels, but also the contributions of concerned alumni.  Please find that letter, and that envelope, and vote against the Board’s decision with your wallet.
If you want to do more, you can direct your donation to the Carleton College Fossil Free Fund instead.  (You can find a link to information about the fund and the online donation portal here: https://giveresponsibly.nationbuilder.com/carleton).  We value donations of any size, because numbers of donors is as important as amounts of donations.  We need to let the College know that there is money available to them, just waiting for a different decision, and that many, many alumni care about this.
We cannot let this drop.  The future depends on us keeping as much fossil fuel in the ground as possible, and on changing the culture of acceptance of dirty fuels.  We’ll be working on it; we look forward to your help. If you have questions or comments, or would like to do more to help, email divestcarleton@gmail.com