Committee weighs divestment options

by Katie Rafter | 9/22/14 7:04pm

College President Phil Hanlon has tasked a committee with preparing a report describing the advantages and disadvantages of divestment at Dartmouth. The Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility met for the first time on Monday night to discuss divestment.

At the meeting, members discussed the scope of the requested report and what information the committee will need, committee executive administrator Allegra Lubrano wrote in an email.

Lubrano, a nonvoting member of the committee, said in an interview that she believes Hanlon’s request comes in the wake of a letter received last March from student group Divest Dartmouth, which urged him to divest the College’s endowment from companies that extract fossil fuels.

The committee will decide if it will take into account factors other than financial and environmental implications while it compiles information for the paper, College spokesperson Justin Anderson wrote in an email.

“Dartmouth would be remiss if it was not engaged in an exercise like this,” Anderson wrote.

Since its founding in January 2013, Divest Dartmouth has campaigned for the College to divest its endowment from a list of200 publicly traded companies with the largest known fossil fuel reserves. The group requests that Dartmouth freeze any new investments in these companies and withdraw from any existing investments over the next five years.

Organizers are pleased by the committee’s formation and are excited to be working with them, said Leehi Yona ’16, a lead organizer. She added that she wished administrators had taken action sooner due to the issue’s urgency.

Yona said divestment is not about damaging these companies financially, although she acknowledges that successful divestment would have a financial impact. Instead, she said the goal is to increase awareness of climate change on campus.

This issue is especially important to a college like Dartmouth that hopes to educate future leaders, Yona said.

“We cannot condemn future generations to a world that has catastrophic climate change,” she said.

In the past year, Divest Dartmouth has almost tripled its membership, and is still developing initiatives to expand enrollment, Yona said. Yona said the organization is collaborating with similar organizations at other institutions, like Divest Harvard.

Organizers of Divest Dartmouth hope to meet with Trustees in the near future, Yona said. She also noted a desire to work with alumni and faculty.

Several members of Divest Dartmouth traveled to the New York City People’s Climate March over the weekend as part of a larger group of around 30 Dartmouth students.

Thousands of demonstrations took place worldwide on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Time reported that the crowd numbered about 400,000 people.

Departing from Hanover early Saturday morning, students arrived in New York City and met other participants at a high school, where there were workshops on a range of different subjects, such as how climate change affects different groups and an emphasis on climate justice.

On Sunday morning, the students walked alongside around the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators.

Katie Williamson ’15 said it was an inspiring event.

“There was an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm being surrounded by a sea of people all standing up, demanding action,” she said.

Annie Laurie Mauhs-Pugh ’14, now a graduate student at Dartmouth, said the march was overwhelming, but it was a “very powerful experience” to be among a large group of different types of people who are passionate about the same cause.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction appended (Sept. 23, 2014):

Divest Dartmouth seeks to divest the College's endowment from alist of 200 publicly traded companies with the largest known fossil fuel reserves, not from all companies that extract fossil fuels. The article has been corrected.