Opinion

A Crucial Step for the Partial Divestment Proposal

On the fifth of April, Fossil Free Mac heard back from Macalester’s Social Responsibility Committee (SRC) and President Brian Rosenberg regarding our proposal to place a moratorium on the $40 million the college endowment invests in private partnerships with the oil and gasindustry. We are incredibly excited to report that the members of the committee have unanimously voted to support this proposal.

In their response, they state, “All of the voting SRC committee members agreed with FFM that direct investments in oil and gas are contrary to Macalester’s publicly stated positions on the environment and climate change… as the impacts of climate change become more tangible and visible there is increasing urgency to act against climate change in whatever ways possible. Consistent with its public positions on environmental issues and other commitments to sustainability, Macalester should be a visible leader in these efforts.”

The SRC additionally noted that the money divested from these contracts could instead be directed towards more socially responsible and sustainable investments, identifying institutions such as Hampshire College and Middlebury College as examples of effective socially responsible investing.

The SRC is composed of Roopali Phadke, Suzanne Hansen, Shelby Witherby ’18, Molly Flerlage ’18, Jim Doyle, Gary Martin, David Wheaton and Donna Lee, and we thank them sincerely for acknowledging the importance of climate justice and supporting action to address it. This represents a major step forward in our efforts to divest the college from the fossil fuel industry — a victory for both the institution and all advocates of environmental justice. Now that the SRC has endorsed our goal, the proposal will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for their consideration. If they vote to approve it, Macalester will not renew the private partnership contracts that they have with fossil fuel companies, effectively divesting tens of millions of dollars from the industry over the next several years. This would be Macalester’s first major step towards joining a movement dedicated to the preservation of the planet and the well-being of those who live on it.

Achieving this goal is especially important as Macalester has refused to disclose the companies and projects that it is invested in. This money may very well be funding efforts such as the Line 3 and Keystone XL Pipelines. Projects such as these and the companies that support them have devastated massive ecosystems, threatened the lives and land of indigenous communities, and have contributed to increasingly frequent and devastating natural disasters. By taking action on this issue, Macalester could potentially encourage other institutions to take these important steps towards achieving divestment. As a growing number of institutions refuse to invest in oil and gas companies, the influence the fossil fuel industry can have on our planet shrinks.

Every person at Macalester has the ability to help move Macalester toward a fossil free future. Catch us tabling in front of the Campus Center in the upcoming weeks, or stop by our weekly meetings every Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. in CC room 206. We hope to see you there and we hope you will support us as we look forward to and prepare for the Board of Trustees vote. Looking beyond this vote, our work is far from complete. We remain resolutely focused on our broader goal of fully aligning our investments with our values. The SRC’s endorsement is a fantastic start, and we feel that their recommendation marks a turning point in the decision making regarding campus investments.

You can learn more about our aims and the divestment movement as a whole at: www.fossilfreemac.com.

Fossil Free Mac

Contributing Writers

April 26, 2018

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