Written by members of Haverfordians for a Livable Future
Last Tuesday, President Weiss released a letter stating that the Board of Managers had decided to not divest our endowment from the 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest carbon holdings. Haverfordians for a Livable Future agrees with the Board that there are many great steps that our school can take in addition to divestment, but without considering divestment, Haverford is losing an opportunity to be a leader for a livable future. Continuing inaction on divestment is an active choice nonetheless, and the Board of Managers’ recent decision by no means resolves the issues at hand. As long as our school actively chooses stasis, we continue to be complicit in destructive resource extraction. As long as our school continues to be invested in the companies with the largest carbon holdings, the viability of our endowment directly relies on the increasing profitability of extracting and burning fossil fuels.
In light of the Board’s decision, we are holding a candlelight vigil for the community on Thursday, November 14th at 5:45 PM in front of Founders Hall. We invite you to join the vigil and reflect on the effects of our school’s current investment practices. This candlelight vigil mourns the ongoing costs of our inaction to people like Junior Walk, living on the frontlines of mountaintop removal coal mining, and Yudith Nieto, growing up in the shadows of oil refineries. This vigil mourns the ongoing costs for all of us, for we are all affected by global climate change. Yet, the vigil is not only solemn; it is also celebratory. It is a moment for us to reflect on the hope we have for a livable future that we can realize through making more responsible investment decisions as part of a far-reaching international movement. It is a moment to imagine how we can complement and magnify the sustainability projects concurrently occurring on campus.
In the past year, Haverfordians for a Livable Future has reached out to students, administrators, Board Members, professors, and other college stakeholders to talk about the Divest Haverford! campaign, and we will continue to do so even in light of the Board’s decision. The road to divestment may be a long one, and we are committed to discussing the multiple avenues to get us there. Haverfordians for a Livable Future have had a series of positive meetings with the Committee for Investments and Social Responsibility, and we look forward to working with them and other members of the Haverford community. It is in the spirit of Haverfordian dialogue to have conversations that are cooperative and productive, and that engage various college stakeholders. To that end, we have asked the Committee for Investment and Social Responsibility to join us in a neutrally facilitated dialogue to negotiate options of how to move forward together.
Instead of being the end, the Board of Managers’ recent decision is an opportunity to examine and discuss our school’s investments. We look forward to working with the community to pursue ways to enact Haverford’s values of honor, intellectual rigor, and civic and social responsibility. We would love for you to join us at the vigil on Thursday, and if you are interested in getting involved in the campaign, you can e-mail email@example.com.
Thanks for your efforts. Stay with it–climate change is not going anywhere, and the years ahead will be steadily more grim until we get our energy house in order.–Thomas O. Gray ’66 (@climatehawk1 on Twitter)