October 8, 2013
Contact: Adrian Leong
Divest Middlebury Marks Victory on Sustainable Investments, Announces Two Upcoming Events
Student Group That Persuaded College to Increase Investments in Green Businesses Will Hold Educational Event & ‘Office Hours’ at Trustees’ Meeting
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Divest for Our Future Middlebury, the student organization campaigning for Middlebury College to divest out of all fossil fuel investments, today called on the college to substantially expand its commitment to green investments as part of the college’s endowment portfolio.
The group also announced two upcoming events tied to the divestment campaign:
•This Thursday, Oc. 10, at 5 pm in Axinn Room 103, Divest for Our Future Middlebury will hold an educational event to raise awareness of the issue of divestment from fossil fuels. The event will focus on why divestment is important now, the group’s goals are for this semester, and how students, faculty and staff can support the campaign. The event is open to everyone in the college community and interested townspeople.
• When the college Board of Trustees meet on campus later this month, the group will hold “Student Office Hours” outside of Old Chapel before and during the Trustees meeting on Friday, Oct. 18. “We are doing so in the hope of continuing the dialogue with the board, and we also want to remind them of the urgency of this issue and their responsibility to align the College’s investment portfolio with the values stated in its mission statement,” said Adrian Leong a spokesperson for the group.
Divest for Our Future Middlebury has already played an instrumental and successful role this year in persuading the college to move a substantial portion of its endowment into environmentally sound investments. The student group achieved this victory as part of it ongoing campaign, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of the student body, to have the college divest out of all investments in fossil fuels (oil, gas and goal).
Fossil fuels are driving the growth of carbon in the atmosphere, leading to increasingly dangerous climate change around the globe. The Middlebury divestment campaign is part of a burgeoning national movement to have colleges, universities and other institutions divest out of fossil fuels. The movement was launched last year by 350.org, which was founded at Middlebury College and is the world’s leading citizen movement to reverse climate change.
In a statement released this week, Divest for Our Future Middlebury called upon the college to immediately and publicly begin a process to implement its promise to significantly increase the amount of the college endowment directed toward environmental, sustainable and governance (ESG) principles, as outlined in the college statement of August 28, 2013:
* Develop the promised ESG principles;
* Intensify the college’s review of its investment portfolio; and
* Significantly increase the amount and percentage of the endowment directed toward environmentally appropriate investments.
The statement said the college’s decision to increase green investments, in its Sustainable Investments Initiative and other areas, shows the power of the divestment movement. While the college’s August 28 statement outlined the college Board of Trustees’ decision not to divest completely out of fossil fuels “at this time,” Divest Middlebury said its divestment campaign remains strong and ongoing.
The group said it “remains deeply committed to working with all elements of the college and its leadership to achieve full divestment out of fossil fuels in the near future.”
More information on the national and international divestment movement can be found at www.gofossilfree.org. The name of 350.org comes from the fact that leading climate scientists have determined that 350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon is the maximum possible for sustainable, ongoing civilization on earth. Atmospheric carbon is currently 400 ppm and rising.
Many of you have likely seen President Liebowitz’s recent letter regarding the Board’s decision not to divest from fossil fuel and arms manufacturing holdings at this time. If you haven’t had a chance and would like to read it, it can be found here<http://www.middlebury.edu/about/president/divestment>.
While this is a disappointing announcement, we are by no means giving up. We expected this statement from the President; most campus campaigns receive an initial no. We believe the President’s statement provides clarity on the next steps we will need to take to achieve divestment.
We have written this letter<http://sites.middlebury.edu/divest/sample-page/> in response and would like to share it with you all and ask you to sign on<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/16gHGaZcXyA4WUc5seKpyCJCIpA2gVJqHudW3df1cZg4/viewform> in support. We will deliver it to the President, the College Administration and the Board of Trustees after signatures have been collected. We will ask that they distribute it as they did their statement, in the name of continuing the inclusive conversation.
We are also asking alumni to refrain from donating to Middlebury until we have established a method of donating that ensures one’s gift will not be invested in fossil fuels and arms manufacturing. Bill McKibben intends to give his $50,000 award from Norway’s Sophie Prize to the college with this stipulation. We are actively working to provide alumi with this opportuniy in the near future; we will let you know when we have full details.
In case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here is one of our favorite paragraphs from the letter:
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” We received the President’s statement on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. As people continue to suffer from environmental racism and injustice, as the climate crisis grows more dire, we cannot afford to ignore reality; we cannot afford to be late. We must be early; we must lead. We must push ourselves and our peers to take further action, even when the path presented is not the easiest choice. Middlebury has embraced this challenge in the past, and we must continue to work for a livable planet. The bottom line is that this is bigger than the $970 million of our endowment; this is about the future of life on this earth. We are not willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable populations and future generations for short-term convenience.
We have accomplished amazing things in the past year, joining and strengthening the national movement, and pushing the campus to reflect and engage in serious dialogue. We look forward to continuing this work with you all this fall.
Thank you for your support!
Join us Friday! https://www.facebook.com/events/453458198081961/
Check out The Campus’s coverage here:
And to watch a recording of the panel:
SUNDAY, DOORS OPEN AT 7:30PM FOR STUDENTS, 7:45PM FOR THE COMMUNITY, MEAD CHAPEL
Middlebury, VT – This January 20th, Middlebury College will kick-off a formal process to consider divesting its endowment from fossil fuels and arms manufacturers with a major “Do The Math” event with writer and activist Bill McKibben.
“If you’re curious about divestment, this event will be a chance to see why it has suddenly emerged as the biggest student movement in a very long time,” says McKibben, Middlebury’s Schumann Distinguished Scholar and the founder of the international climate campaign 350.org.
Over 200 colleges and universities across the country have joined the new fossil fuel divestment campaign that McKibben helped launch last fall with 350.org’s sold-out 21-city “Do The Math” tour. The campaign is modeled on the 1980s campaign to divest from apartheid South Africa.
This November, in response to a surge of student activism at Middlebury, President Ronald Liebowitz revealed that 3.6% of Middlebury’s $900 million endowment is invested in fossil fuels. The President agreed to a formal process to consider divestment that will begin this January.
“Midd Does The Math’ will offer the Middlebury community a chance to engage in a movement that belongs to all of us,” said Greta Neubauer, a student organizer on campus. “We appreciate the administration’s commitment to dialogue and look forward to this conversation yielding a commitment to action.”
Over 700 students, faculty, administrators and community members are expected to attend the Jan 20th Do The Math event at Middlebury. Press are requested to RSVP for the event since organizers expect a sell-out crowd.