Written by Yale Sophomore Nathan Lobel and Yale Freshman Nate Bresnick

On the first day of the academic year, our community awoke to an email from President Peter Salovey announcing that the Yale Corporation had decided not to divest the university’s endowment from fossil fuel companies.

 For two years, Fossil Free Yale has collaborated with the Yale administration to convince them of the moral imperative to divest.  We designed a proposal that called for divestment within Yale’s own guidelines of ethical investing, we won a referendum in which 83% of undergraduates too demanded divestment, and we met with the faculty members whenever they allowed.

But Yale’s administration has made clear that is not interested in working with Fossil Free Yale in the future. The Corporation’s Committee on Investor Responsibility made its decision after refusing to meet with members of Fossil Free Yale at any point. With this decision, we are now preparing to organize outside of the official channels that have now been closed to us. We’re getting ready to make noise.

The administration’s dismissal of our call for divestment presents an exciting opportunity to further our movement’s goals. The kind of attention we hope to draw to our fight, both on and off campus, will further show our community and the public about the urgency of climate change. Together then, we will show the world that an institution charged with the pursuit of “Light and Truth” will not support the destruction of our environment, the exploitation of poor and minority communities, and the sacrifice of our collective future for the sake of profit.  

Addressing climate change can no longer be only a question of local action to improve energy efficiency.  We have to attack the root of this issue.  When attacking climate injustice, things always come back to the fossil fuel companies.  Yale’s current response sends a message of complacency.  But the status quo is no longer acceptable.  Yale must take a stand.

In the coming months, we’re going to work to build an informed and passionate base on campus. As the hundreds of Yalies return from the People’s Climate March, energized and looking for a way to make change, we will welcome them to our movement. We need the divestment community to show them that we are not alone. Let’s show our communities that divestment is the best tool that students have to act out against the injustice of the fossil fuel industry. The more we speak out across the country, the more voices will join ours here. And when the time comes, we will speak in unison, for the whole world to hear — and Yale will listen.