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The Carletonian

Board of Trustees reject divestment

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As Fall term came to a close, The chair of Carleton’s Board of Trustees, Jack Eugster (’67) P’02, addressed a memo to the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC). The memo, released on November 12th, expressed opposition to divestment from fossil fuels. “While respecting CRIC’s and others’ views on this matter… the Board does not support your Committee’s divestment recommendation and has voted not to divest,” Eugster wrote. (The full memo is published in the Viewpoint section.)

Eugster was writing on behalf of the Board, which met in October to discuss CRIC’s September report recommending divestment as well as other climate-conscious investment-related actions the Board could take. He outlined the Trustees’ acknowledgement of climate change and commitment to environmental stewardship, citing steps Carleton has taken in recent years and and steps it will take in the future. Eugster addressed divestment in sections on fiduciary responsibilities and intergenerational considerations; the College’s role in political and moral issues; and divestment as a strategy for change.

On November 24, Divest Carleton published a letter posted on their website that was addressed to alumni supporters of Carleton, expressing disappointment with the Board’s decision. Coinciding with Carleton’s Annual Fund solicitations, Divest Carleton requested that alumni withhold contributions in light of the Board’s decision against divestment. “It is important that Carleton know that they lose not only money on the bad investment in fossil fuels, but also the contributions of concerned alumni,” they wrote. “Please…vote against the Board’s decision with your wallet.”

Two weeks later, the Divest Carleton Alumni followed with their own open letter to the Board, signed by 25 alumni and three Divest Carleton student leaders, sharply condemning the rejection of CRIC’s recommendation. “We believe that the…memo did not seriously address the arguments made by CRIC in its report, opting instead to briefly rehash old arguments,” they wrote.

“The memo presents a self-satisfied ‘business as usual’ perspective which is unacceptable in the face of climate chaos.” The group addressed each of the sections covered in the Board’s memo, concluding, “We, therefore, call upon the Board to reconsider its decision and to divest its fossil fuel holdings as CRIC has recommended.”

Alumnus Brett Smith (’64) P’91, P’93 told the Carletonian that the signatories of the letter requested a response to the memo and an opportunity to meet with the Board at its February meeting. At press time, Smith said he had not received any response, or even an acknowledgement of receipt.

“We expect that the college community will continue to engage passionately on issues of climate change, its implications, and how to mitigate them,” Eugster wrote in the conclusion of his memo. “Carleton and its stakeholders will also continue to work together to invest proactively in initiatives that increase the Col-ege’s sustainability and that add to the body of knowledge on these important topics.

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