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

The long-awaited CRIC Report on Divestment to the Board of Trustees is here

The Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC) has finally issued its report to the Board of Trustees.  It comes out clearly in favor of divestment of all of Carleton’s direct holdings in fossil fuel companies, and is important reading.  No word yet on whether the BOT will take up the recommendations in the report at their October 22-24 meeting, but you can be sure we will be watching, and keeping you up to date.


A Letter to Pope Francis, on the occasion of his visit to the United States

Divest Carleton was honored to be asked to sign on to this letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis.

Most Holy Father,

We write to you as young people, as constituents of Jesuit institutions, other Catholic, Christian, and religious institutions, and non-religious institutions as people of goodwill, on behalf of an entire generation. We are standing on the precipice of climate catastrophe. Since the release of your encyclical “Laudato Si” in June, we have been inspired by your call for climate justice and the awakening of the Catholic and global community to the systemic causes of the climate crisis.

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Beginning of the Ende

All across the world, people are taking divestment action as and where they can. Here’s a great blog about the recent action in Germany, Ende Gelande. (Here, and no further.)

Mountains, pictures, action.

“I’m so glad to see people drawing a firm line in the coalfields, and stopping the planet’s largest coal-digging machines. We’re driven not by ideology but by physics: there’s simply no way to burn all this lignite and keep the climate intact. These protesters are lifeguards for an endangered planet.”

Bill McKibben,

Photo: Tobias Mandt Photo: Tobias Mandt

I’m running and I’m running and I’m just one, just one amongst hundreds of people running to escape the batons and the pepper spray, running to break through the police line and run on and on across the field to the mine. But as we’re running and my legs are pumping and the adrenaline’s thumping I turn and see something that makes my blood turn cold and time stand still. I see a man made massive with body armour and a helmet and a baton, and I see him throw his shoulder back and form…

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Divest Carleton member writes to the Sierra Club

(This letter was sent by one of Divest Carleton’s founding members to the Sierra Club regarding their recent ranking of ‘green colleges.’ )

To the editor:
As a long time Sierra Club activist, I am appalled that your magazine would again rank “green” colleges without reference to their record on fossil fuel divestment. We now know that to avoid catastrophic climate change, the majority of carbon reserves already on the books will have to be left in the ground. But the fossil fuel companies continue with basic business plans that ignore this reality and seek to burn it all, find more, and then burn that. To protect those plans they “invest” millions in candidate support and lobbying to prevent significant political action.
It is not “cool,” but flat our wrong for colleges to continue to profit from these companies, essentially creating a vested interest in their success. There may have been a time when the “on-campus” indicators were a useful way to identify green colleges. That time is now gone. By publishing these rankings the Club gives opponents of divestment ammunition which they can use to argue about what is really “cool” and “green.”
On-campus actions are laudable and necessary, but more is needed to address climate change.Think of it this way. If every college in the top 100 meets its most ambitions “on-campus” greenhouse gas reduction goals, it will not make even a ripple in total emissions. But if all 100 divested their fossil fuel holdings, it would significantly change the moral and political climate surrounding fossil fuels, and could well spark a grass roots movement powerful enough to seriously address the dire threats that we face.
My hope is that you will write a correction or retraction or, perhaps publish a new list which recognizes divestment as a crucial indicator. In any case, please, in next year’s rankings, make up the green list based on divestment support and relegate on-campus greening to side articles which identify some of the more creative actions, as was done with divestment in this issue.
Brett A. Smith

Dear Carleton:

(This letter was recently sent from a Carleton alumnus to President Poskanser, regarding his decision to withhold donations to Carleton until the Board of Trustees votes to divest from fossil fuels.  Instead, as he notes, he is contributing to the Carleton College Fossil Free Fund.  He has given us permission to share his letter so that others can consider taking this action and sending similar communication.)

Dear Alumni Office and President Poskanzer,

I am writing to inform you that I have ceased donating to Carleton until the college pledges to divest its endowment from fossil fuel holdings. I would therefore like to inform you that I have just donated to the Carleton College Fossil Free Fund. I intend to continue donating to this fund until Carleton divests, at which point my prior donations will be available to the college, and I will be pleased to resume donating directly.
Climate change is the great moral crisis of the century. Hundreds of colleges/universities, cities, religious institutions, and foundations around the world are awakening to the realization that fossil fuel companies not only have a business plan that is reckless, but they are also using their political power to deceive the public and block meaningful action. We will look back on this period in much the same way we do the campaign to divest from apartheid South Africa. Carleton stands for so much that is right in the world, and it has taught so many to think critically, rather than passively accepting the status quo. I do not want to see Carleton standing on the wrong side of history any longer.
I was a member of the college’s Environmental Advisory Committee as a student, and I know about all of the great things that are being done to make the campus more carbon-neutral and environmentally-friendly. These are commendable measures that should continue, but they are in no way an excuse for refusing divestment. The social license that Carleton provides to fossil fuel companies through its investments do far more damage than our wind turbines or composting program could ever offset. Avoiding divestment by not wanting to be too “political” is simply not a honest position. When you are investing in and profiting from companies that are fueling disinformation and obstruction, that is in itself a political act — and one that Carleton should not be proud of. And if the intention of continuing investment is to maintain a voice a shareholder, one need only to look at the example of the the first family of oil, the Rockefellers, which tried and failed for years to get Exxon to take climate change seriously — before choosing to divest.
There is no tweaking around the edges that can make fossil fuel companies responsible actors worthy of investment; their basic business plan is incompatible with a safe climate and stable society. Simply put, wrecking the planet is wrong, and it is wrong to profit from that wreckage.
I look forward to the day when I can continue to donate to my beloved alma mater. I am absolutely certain you will find overwhelming support and praise when you choose to do what is right.
Ben Cushing
Class of 2012

Op-Ed Letters in The Carletonian Lay Out Reasons for Divestment

A member of the Board of Trustees responded recently to CRIC (Carleton Responsible Investment Committee) that the Board is concerned about involving itself in “political” actions.  The Carletonian invited Op-Ed responses — and got them in spades.  Check out these great articles, which cover a wide range of perspectives on whether divestment is political and whether that matters.


Carleton Faculty letter supporting divestment from fossil fuels

Our Carleton faculty have written the attached letter to the administration and the Board of Trustees, supporting divestment from fossil fuels: “The business model of the fossil fuels industry is on a collision course with the life of the planet.  We cannot in good conscience stay invested in this industry.”  As of today, the letter has 69 signators, and growing.  We are so grateful to our professors for taking this important step.


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Rolling Stone gets on board with divestment

Rolling Stone.  Ostensibly an entertainment magazine, they were the home of political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson and PJ O’Rourke.  It has covered the abduction of Patty Hearst; interviewed Daniel Ellsberg and Desmond Tutu; and covered the war on Afghanistan.  And now the Rolling Stone turns its attention to fossil fuel divestment and lays out the argument for why it is the logical thing to do.