We have been told by our presidents and Boards of Trustees that our universities are not divesting from fossil fuels. Their response, however, must not be mistaken for an answer.
Their continued support of the fossil fuel industry is not an answer to loss of life and loss of ways of life caused by the climate crisis. Nor is it an answer to undrinkable water, polluted air, and contaminated soil. And it is certainly not an answer to fulfilling universities’ mission of leaving the world a better place.
We’re asking for our universities to take a hard look at themselves. We’re asking for our finances to be aligned with our mission. We’re asking for transformative change.
We know it’s not easy for our institutions to accept what they will see in the mirror. But now is not the time for preserving pride and egos. It’s time for our universities to be leaders, not complicit allies of the fossil fuel industry.
Our schools are proud of the curiosity, innovation, and dynamic nature of our academic departments. Why do our investment offices get to be so stuck in their ways? The vision to respond to a changing world is what makes universities such fantastic institutions.
Many of us expected a no from our presidents and boards, recognizing that most campaigns won’t get a yes with their first ask.
They say that divestment will hurt our million and billion dollar endowments.
They say that they’ve done their part by greenwashing our campuses.
What we’re going to do is what King, Gandhi, and others did when existing power structures told them no. We’re going to escalate.
What we’re going to do is bring more students, more staff and faculty, and more alums into the fold. People who meet three times a year to talk about finances do not make up our institutions. Our alums, our faculty and staff, and our students are what make our schools great. We will leverage the collective power of these groups to demand our universities do what is right.
What we’re going to do is whatever it takes.
What we’re not going to do is let the fossil fuel industry run our schools. Our universities are better than that.
What we’re not going to do is wait. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” While institutions of power stall, people continue to suffer from environmental injustice.
What we’re not going to do is stop. The stakes are too high. No is just a sign to escalate our tactics. No is just the motivator we need to build our power until there’s no option but yes.
And we will not stop until the false choice between investing in immoral assets and our thriving institutions is smashed. We won’t stop until our campuses have divested from fossil fuels.
Will you join us this semester to take our campaigns to the next level — to organize, to escalate, and in the end, to divest?
All our hearts,
To sign on your campus campaign to this call to action, contact Jenny@350.org.
Solidarity Sign ons:
DIVESTnow Stevens (Stevens Institute of Technology)
350 at the University of Virginia
Fossil Free USF
Bowdoin Climate Action
Fossil Free App State
Fossil Free Bates
Fossil Free UCLA
Fossil Free Cal
Earlham College REInvest Campaign
Eau Claire Divest
Fossil Free Minnesota
Divest Carleton – Alumni
Fossil Free Mac
Divest Fort Lewis
Climate Justice Coalition – Carleton College
University of Minnesota Morris Divest
Divest CSB/SJU – St. Joseph, MN
Tufts Students for a Just and Stable Future
Fossil Free Valdosta State
Fossil Free Denison
Fossil Free UW- Maddison
Divestment Committee – Naropa
Fossil Free AU
Luther Seminary Divestment Campaign
Divest Northeastern University
University of Vermont Divest Now