Movement to divest at Allegheny College will not fade with time

Movement to divest at Allegheny College will not fade with time

By: Nathan Malachowski, Community Organizer at Iowa CCI

On April 22nd, 2014, Allegheny Student Government (ASG) voted to pass a resolution in favor of fossil fuel divestment. This was a cursory step toward garnering support for the initiative, and in many ways served as a commitment on the part of ASG to pursue fossil fuel divestment on an institutional level. To be clear, students at Divest Allegheny have the following demands:

Allegheny College Board of Trustees: We call on Allegheny College to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

Nearly one year has passed, and ASG has made no noticeable traction in lifting up fossil fuel divestment as an action in line with Allegheny values. This isn’t entirely surprising. In my four years at Allegheny College, ASG rarely acted as an institution representative of the student body as student senators failed to connect with their constituents on many levels. It’s shameful that ASG has moved so slowly on this. With respect to climate change and the associated environmental, social, and economic impacts, there is no room for hesitancy when it comes to bold action.

Yet ASG is not the only guilty party. The Board of Trustees have also failed to act or even engage in discussion on fossil fuel divestment. Only a few Trustees have ever agreed to meet with student organizers on the issue. It is imperative that the Trustees work directly with student organizers on the question of divestment. They must also work with Sue Gaylor, the Vice President of Finance, to explore the divestment options already made available by Allegheny’s private investment firm, Cambridge Associates.

In my mind, administrative inaction is indicative of a broader strategy on the part of the institution at Allegheny College. By moving slowly on student initiatives, the college is able to wait until the leaders of those initiatives burn out or graduate. This strategy is unacceptable at a College that claims to support the passions of the students that it graduates.

The Alumni Divestment Network (ADN) launches this week in an effort to demonstrate to colleges and universities across the country that student power can not be drowned out. We are working to network among alumni of the fossil fuel divestment movement to grow student power as more graduates leave their respective institutions. In this way, as more students graduate we will only become stronger in leveraging for fossil fuel divestment. Allegheny’s bottom line is already at risk because of fossil fuel investments- a growing body of alums withholding donations compounds that risk. It’s well beyond time for the Board of Trustees to take on fossil fuel divestment at Allegheny College.

Organizers at ADN have crafted a pledge for graduates and current students as a representation of the power of the fossil fuel divestment movement. Part of this pledge is below- I hope you’ll join us!

I will not graduate out of this movement.

I pledge to withhold any future donations from Allegheny College until it commits to divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves, in line with the demands of Divest Allegheny.

I take this commitment seriously, and I hope that you will also pledge to fight for the future of current students and of generations to come.

Will you join me?

Contact Nathan Malachowski (ncmalachowski@gmail.com) for more information, or visit the ADN website at http://organizingpledgeproject.weebly.com/. For more information on Divest Allegheny sign their petition here: https://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/allegheny-college.

Undersigned

Zach Cramer -- Class of 2015

Nathan Malachowski -- Class of 2014

Paige Missel -- Class of 2014

Simone Feigenbaum -- Class of 2013

Nicholas Christensen -- Class of 2013

Heather Fish -- Class of 2015

Brittany Iafrate -- Class of 2014

Douglas Nestor -- Class of 2014

Gilad Gabbay-- Class of 2014

Autumn Vogel -- Class of 2015

Katy Click -- Class of 2016

Andrea Varrato -- Class of 2012

John Stenger -- Class of 2011

Kelly Williams -- Class of 2014

Taylor Hinton -- Class of 2014

Elizabeth Stiles -- Class of 2013

Rose Fischer -- Class of 2018

Jess Swigonski -- Class of 2014

Shannon Wade -- Class of 2013

Tiffany Ng -- Class of 2014

Kiley Fisher -- Class of 2013

Jessica Schombert -- Class of 2016

Annie Krol -- Class of 2013

Elena Juodisius -- Class of 2013