Students advocate for divestment of endowment

The Colby Alliance for Renewable Energy (CARE) has recently hosted demonstrations and tabled in Pulver Pavilion advocating for the divestment of the Colby Endowment from fossil fuels. Colby is one of the few colleges that is currently 100% carbon neutral. Neutrality surrounds the issue of greenhouse-gas emissions. While Colby does not cause a net impact on greenhouse gas emissions on campus, the College has not committed to divestment and retains holdings in the fossil fuel industry.

WEBdivestDivestment has been a central issue on college campuses as of late. Movements have pushed for divestment of endowments at schools across the NESCAC. CARE has been advocating for the full divestment of the College’s endowment since 2012. Divestment was seen as an opportunity to talk about climate change and activism at Colby. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the #DivestColby movement gained traction and eventually the issue of divestment was brought before the Board of Trustees. The Board decided to follow precedent and elected to not divest from fossil fuels.

In a 2006 statement issued by the College and the Board of Trustees concerning investment action in Myanmar and Sudan, it was noted: “Colby’s endowment is not a particularly effective or nimble vehicle for prompting political change or for political expression. Action such as divestment should only be considered under the most exceptional circumstances.” The administration previously relied on this statement and further argued that the risks that divestment poses to the Endowment would challenge the purpose and goal of the endowment as put forth by the Board of Trustees. A College report obtained by the Echo detailed: “Fossil fuel industries [and] more broadly, the energy sector represents about 10 percent of global market capitalization. Eliminating such a sizeable sector reduces the diversification of the portfolio and removes one potential source of inflation-hedging investments.”

CARE has pushed for the College to avoid directly investing in fossil fuels. “A great step for Colby is to say that our direct investments are not invested in one of the top 200 dirtiest companies,” commented co-president of CARE Casey Ballin ’16. In an email correspondence with the Echo, Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Doug Terp ’84 stated that the College does not currently hold any direct investments on the Carbon Underground 200, an index of the top 200 dirtiest publicly traded oil and coal companies. However, the College has yet to commit to divesting all direct investments or change their investment policies to accommodate divestment.

CARE hopes to increase student awareness on the subject and has plans to engage the community in conversation. Most recently, CARE hosted Divestment Day, an opportunity for the student body to discuss climate change and the implications of divestment with members of CARE. In Foss, Cecil Brooks ’17 performed poetry related to climate change in an effort to raise awareness.