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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Board of Trustees meeting summary published, to vote on divestment in February


On Monday, October 31, President Alison Byerly confirmed that following an informal discussion on Friday, the Board of Trustees agreed to vote on the question of divestment in their February session. 

“I think [trustees] are very aware and have been for some time of the strong community feeling [regarding divestment],” said Byerly in an interview with the Carletonian. “And so, certainly the students who were protesting this weekend gave specific visibility to it. But this discussion we started more than a year ago and [the decision] was after several years of their feeling a growing tide of interest in the community.” 

The announcement comes after a weekend full of events by students of the Divest Carleton, a student organization advocating for divestment from fossil fuels and the military industrial complex. On November 3, the Thursday following Divest’s occupation of the Weitz, President Byerly issued her formal statement through her newsletter, “Carleton Today”. 

“As I wrote last spring in Carleton Today, the Board has, over the course of the last year, not only received comments and input from the community on this topic, but engaged in conversations between members of the Investment Committee and members of CRIC (the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee), the Divest Carleton student group, and the Divest Carleton alumni group”, read the email sent to all students, staff and faculty. “They have also undertaken some analysis of the approaches taken by other institutions, and the possible impact of divestment on the endowment. The Board intends to bring this issue to a vote in February.”

The Board of Trustees is set to meet once again in February, where the topic will be formally discussed and put to a vote. 

“We see it as a real victory,” said a Divest member.

Eva Hadjiyanis ’23. “It feels like something that students have been working toward for eight years and something the Board of Trustees has been saying no, no, no.  We see it as yeah we did need to escalate, we did that, and it worked. Now they’re going to vote so we have a lot more work to do in between now and February, talking to board members and making sure that we’ll be able to have the votes. But right now we’re feeling really good about it.”

President Byerly also addressed Divest Carleton’s weekend-long occupation of the Weitz, and the reasoning for their removal in her statement. 

“The Board meetings were accompanied by an ongoing protest by students from Divest Carleton, who occupied the Weitz Center from Thursday through Sunday. Although College policy normally prohibits students from remaining overnight in spaces that are not fire-coded for residential use, we provided an exemption to this policy in order to allow the students to stage protests, workshops and other events over the course of the weekend.” 

The 2022 October meeting summary also included approval for Phase I of the college’s Student Life and Housing Plan, which includes the construction of new townhouse-style residential spaces in Lilac Hill, as well as construction of new cultural houses, a multicultural center and a Black student center on Union Street. The trustees also approved faculty promotions, 17 mid-year B.A. degrees, one Honorary Degree and honored three William Carleton medal recipients. 

In their next two meetings in February and May trustees are expected to vote on divestment as well as approval of Phase II of the Student Life and Housing Plan. 

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