Student Body Referendum 2014

Below is the wording of the student body referendum on the SGA Spring Election:

YES: I, as a member of the Smith College student body, support the sentiments expressed in this letter. As stated below, I believe that Smith College has a moral and financial responsibility to divest our endowment from the fossil fuel industry. I ask that this letter be considered by the Board of Trustees.

NO: I, as a member of the Smith College student body, do not believe that Smith College has a moral and financial responsibility to divest our endowment from the fossil fuel industry.

Text of the Letter:

Dear Smith College Board of Trustees,

The extraction, transportation, and use of fossil fuels cause damage to communities around the globe, to the environment, and to the climate. For more information about the fossil fuel industry and Smith’s investments, please visit divestsmithcollege.com. Because the moral implications of remaining invested in the fossil fuel industry contradict the Smith College community’s longstanding commitment to being pioneers in social and environmental justice movements and their stated commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, it is the opinion of the student body that Smith College must take concrete steps towards divesting from the fossil fuel industry. We, the student body, request that the Smith College Board of Trustees be aware of our belief that the college has a responsibility to:

1. Freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and commit now to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

2. Publish an annual progress report about the exposure of Smith College’s endowment to the fossil fuel industry.

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Response to President McCartney’s Panel on Divestment

From left to right: Alice Handy, Peggy Eisen, Bob Litterman, Kathleen McCartney.

From left to right: Alice Handy, Peggy Eisen, Bob Litterman, Kathleen McCartney.

Below is the full text of an article originally published in The Sophian following the panel discussion hosted by President McCartney about Divestment.

On Monday, February 24th, concerned members of the Smith community filled the Carroll Room to discuss the relationship between the college’s endowment and the fossil fuel industry. President McCartney’s office sponsored the panel discussion in response to the growing movement on campus to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The conversation focused on the financial structure of endowments. The panelists and administrators who spoke failed to place our endowment in the context of Smith’s institutional power and failed to address the political statement we are making by investing in the fossil fuel industry.

After publicly recognizing the threat of climate change, Smith created the Sustainability and Climate Action Management Plan, which details how Smith will reach carbon neutrality by 2030, although it does not mention investments. In the past, Smith recognized the political statements made by our assets and divested from companies operating in Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s, and in Sudan in 2007. By refusing to recognize the implications of investment in the fossil fuel industry, Smith is making a statement that our institution supports the harmful practices of fossil fuel companies that result in community and environmental destruction, while simultaneously perpetuating climate change.

Divest Smith College, a network of concerned students, advocates that Smith cease investing our endowment funds in the fossil fuel industry, because Smith has the responsibility to reflect institutional values in its financial decisions. This divestment campaign is backed by strong support from the student body, a third of whom have signed a petition advocating for divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

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