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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Tensions with students and Trustees heat up

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Over the weekend of February 5th, the Carleton Board of Trustees held their termly meeting and was greeted by chanting Divest Carleton supporters. A symbolic wedding was held between fossil fuels and the College, with the Investment Committee serving as officiate. The Carleton Responsible Investment Committee (CRIC) also met with the Board.

Indicating tensions between the Divest Carleton movement and the Board that have existed for years, there was large student involvement in the symbolic wedding. For students like Allison Tucker ’18, a leader of the Divest Carleton group, the wedding was a demand for greater Board attention.

“These events occurred as we feel our voices have not been heard and we have not been given a formal space to discuss with the Trustees after repeatedly asking to meet with them individually,” she wrote in an email.

The Board has not given any signs of warming to divestment, and affirmed their rejection in a recent response to a CRIC report recommending Divestment. Janna Wennberg ’19, a member of CRIC, sympathized with Divest Carleton’s efforts.

“I think what Divest Carleton was doing with both the Wedding and Rally, and then the teach-in, was they wanted to say we’re still here, we heard your response.”

Yet, for students in the Divest movement, the wedding seems to have had limited effects on raising Board attention. Overall, only one board member stopped to speak with Divest Carleton supporters during the visit.

It is currently unclear what steps CRIC will take after receiving the rejection of their formal Divestment recommendation. It will likely be a couple weeks before CRIC decides if and how to respond.

According to Professor David Alberg ’85, co-chair of CRIC, there is a fundamental difference between CRIC and Divest Carleton because CRIC is not a strong advocacy group.

“Now, we don’t know what to do at this point, I don’t see CRIC submitting another huge report,” Alberg said. “I don’t think we’re going to say something twice. If new information comes out there, I’m sure that CRIC would visit it.”

Instead, the role of CRIC is primarily to advise the Board upon shareholder resolutions. These resolutions tend to be ethical in nature, asking companies to produce reports on lobbying activities or recyclable packaging, as examples. The meeting between CRIC and the Board of Trustees was solely in regards to these resolutions.

In this year’s meeting, the resolutions were much more heavily questioned than in previous years. According to Wennberg, the Board “normally will accept CRIC’s positions, whereas this time they pushed back at us.”

In total, the Board rejected two resolutions that CRIC recommended, one of which was a demand to leave reserves growth out of CEO packages at an Oklahoma fossil fuel Company. Currently, executives are incentivized to grow fossil-fuel reserves in their packages.

According to Alberg, the Investment Committee is highly reluctant to take an ethical stance on issues. They have interpreted their fiduciary responsibility as solely to make sure money is maximized for future generations at the College.

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