MHC Divest launched in November 2012 and quickly gained the support of many students. During the spring of 2013, the group delivered petitions to President Lynn Pasquerella and participated in productive dialogue and educational opportunities on campus. In the spring of 2014, the group formally registered as Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition.
In spring 2014, MHC Divest organized a successful student referendum in which, of those who voted, 88% of students voted for Mount Holyoke to divest its endowment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Members of CJC attended the Intentionally Designed Endowments Conference in April 2014 with President Pasquerella and presented in a session on engaging in collaborative dialogue on campus.
Last spring, MHC Divest also met with President Pasquerella and Vice President of Finance Shannon Gurek. We then met with the (now former) Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mary Davis, and two other members of the Board, and we were invited to the September meeting of the Investment Committee. Two members of MHC Divest attended this meeting in New York City, and made an impressive presentation to the entire Committee. Following that meeting, the group met with several Trustees in October. Seven members of MHC Divest attended the meeting, as well as Physics Professor Alexi Arango, and a student action occurred outside the meeting to encourage the Trustees to support divestment.
At the Mount Holyoke Faculty Meeting on May 4th, 2016, 92% of the faculty expressed support for divestment from fossil fuels. This victory comes after two years of working with individual faculty members to education this integral piece of the Mount Holyoke community about divestment, and a pro-divestment statement made by
Although we continue to meet with administrators and Trustees, we acknowledged that we have been working for four years, and there has been no change in Mount Holyoke’s investment policies regarding fossil fuels.
We have had meetings with administrators, students, faculty, staff, and alumnae. We have collaborated with other student organizations on campus, participated in climate justice, political organizing, and intersectionality trainings (including with the Responsible Endowments Coalition), and gone to events like Forward on Climate, XL Dissent, and the People’s Climate March. We have done research on everything from the morality to the financial implications of divestment. We have presented this information on many platforms. Although we appreciate the ongoing dialogue with the administration, at this point the administration is making excuses as to why we cannot divest.
The administration has asked the campaign to accomplish certain tasks. Yet, when we complete them, the administration does not respond with action. After years of this cycle, our campaign feels as though it is being strategically put off by the college. It is our duty as a progressive institution of higher education to divest from the fossil fuel industry. By divesting, we will contribute to a powerful shift away from the dirty energy of the past, away from unjust investments, and away from the corporate stranglehold these institutions have over our political process.
We have the power to determine our own future, but only if we take a stand.