2012-2013 Dickinson College Student Senate

Author(s): Tracy Wolf '15

Co-sponsor(s): Connor Shields '14, Eller Mallchok '15, Jimmy Martin '13

A resolution to urge the Dickinson College Board of Trustees to create a special working group to tackle the topic of divesting the college's endowment from the fossil fuel industry

WHEREAS   Since 1880, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels has warmed the earth by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (according to a recent NASA report);1

WHEREAS   Climate change disproportionately affects minorities and lower income people ;2

WHEREAS   "the Earth's climate has changed in ways that cannot be explained by natural causes alone. We have loaded the climate dice by adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, setting in motion global-scale changes that will have far reaching and long-lasting consequences," as described on Dickinson College's website;3

WHEREAS   "Dickinson College recognizes that as an institution of higher education in the United States, it must lead by example in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges."- Dickinson College Climate Action Plan;4

WHEREAS   Dickinson College has been honored for its commitment to sustainability and education, including straight A's from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card5, a Green Honor Roll recognition by the Princeton Review in 20116, a 2nd "Coolest School" ranking by Sierra Magazine in 20107, and the Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature in 20108

WHEREAS   As a leader in sustainability we have an obligation to help transition the world to a carbon-free and equitable economy,  

WHEREAS   Over 343 college and university campuses have active divestment campaigns10, college and university student senates have passed similar resolutions, and 4 colleges have already divested from fossil fuels11

WHEREAS   Reinvest Dickinson and its student members have brought a national conversation about divestment to campus in a thoughtful way that Student Senate seeks to celebrate and support;

WHEREAS   The engagement of a broad swath of the Dickinson community is vital in a conversation that impacts student, staff, faculty, and alumni alike;

WHEREAS   Divestment represents an effort to solve the pressing problem of climate change, a problem that Student Senate feels is an issue of great importance to people everywhere;

LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Dickinson College Student Senate: 

Urges the Board of Trustees to form a special working group to be composed of trustees, students, staff, and faculty, and tasked with:

  • Managing the investigation - by parties on Dickinson's campus and off - of the merits and drawbacks of divestment from fossil fuels.
  • Coordinating a process of community conversation and education that offers all stakeholders and constituencies a chance at thoughtful, meaningful engagement with this issue.
  • Making a recommendation to the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees on further action related to the question of divesting the endowment from fossil fuels.

Addendum A: Regarding the structure of the committee

Senate urges the following

The committee should be made up of trustees, faculty, staff, Reinvest Dickinson students, Student Senators, and other members of the general student body. 

The committee should meet to plan its agenda for the upcoming academic year before the close of this academic year.

The committee should meet with the board of trustees committee on investments during their fall meeting and at other points throughout this process. 

The committee and necessary sub-committees should meet regularly.

Senate in conjunction with Reinvest Dickinson will do the following

Gather interested students and faculty before the semester concludes to discuss plans for the upcoming academic year. 

Will continue to encourage community dialogue and education on the issue of divestment.  

Addendum B: Sources for our Resolution

1.  http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/15jan_warming/

2.  Multiple sources:

4.  http://www.dickinson.edu/centers/sustainability/content/Climate_Action/

5. http://rs.acupcc.org/site_media/uploads/cap/185-cap.pdf ?????

5.  http://www.greenreportcard.org/report-card-2011/schools/dickinson-college

6. http://www.princetonreview.com/uploadedFiles/Sitemap/Home_Page/Green_Guide_and_Green_OA/Green_Guide/Guide%20to%20Green%20Colleges.pdf

7.  http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201009/coolschools/top100.aspx

8.  http://www.secondnature.org/blog/20101012/dickinson-college-recognized%C2%A0for%C2%A0climate%C2%A0leadership

10.  https://cms.dickinson.edu/uploadedFiles/centers/sustainability/content/Dickinson%20College%20Climate%20Change%20Action%20Plan%209.16.pdf

11. http://gofossilfree.org/campaigns/

Colleges listed below:

  1. Unity College: http://unity.edu/administration/divestment
  2. Hampshire College: http://www.hampshire.edu/news/Hampshire-Policy-on-Environmental-Social-and-Governance-Investing-24972.htm
  3. Sterling College: http://www.sterlingcollege.edu/divestment.html
  4. College of the Atlantic: http://newsworthy.coa.edu/2013/03/coa-divests/

Addendum C: Reinvest Dickinson: a Timeline

1. Saturday, November 17th, 2012: One dozen Dickinson students attend the Do The Math! tour in Philadelphia by Bill McKibben. The students immediately form a working group to research the issue

2. November 18th, 2012-January 26th, 2013: Students convene to research to go about divesting the endowment from fossil fuels and reinvesting it

3. Saturday, January 26th, 2013: Three students from Reinvest Dickinson have a meeting with the Board of Trustees to discussion divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in a Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF)

4. January 30th, 2013: Reinvest Dickinson Students met with Thomas Queenan, Stephen Hietsch, and Keith Gillespie to continue conversations on the topics

5. March 4th, 2013: Reinvest students hosted an event on Britton Plaza to help spread the word to other students about our activities

6. March 5th, 2013: Reinvest Dickinson students meet with Stephen Hietsch to discuss various aspects of the issues, especially a SRLF

7. March 26th: Students from Reinvest Dickinson present a resolution to ask the senators support for divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in a SRLF

8. April 4th, 2013: The students from Reinvest Dickinson held a panel discussion on the endowment with Mr. Hietsch, Professor Leary, Professor Berger, a student member, and Ms. Alice Handy

9. April 11th, 2013: Bill McKibben came to campus as the first winner of the Rose-Walter Prize for Environmental Activism where he gave a lecture in the ATS auditorium

Addendum D: Happenings at other institutions of higher education regarding this subject:

Colleges that have divested their endowment from fossil fuels:

Unity College (11/5/12), Hampshire College (Fall 2012), Sterling College (2/2/13), and College of the Atlantic (3/11/13)

Colleges that have passed senate resolutions in favor of divesting from fossil fuels:

Harvard University, University of California Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, McGill University, Northwestern University, Pitzer College, Tufts University, University of San Diego, University of Vermont, Swarthmore College, Middlebury College, University of North Carolina, Bowdoin College, and Bryn Mawr College

Other relevant information regarding other institutions:

80 institutions already have revolving loan funds containing about $119 million dollars: http://www.aashe.org/resources/campus-sustainability-revolving-loan-funds/all/

For a list of all active campaigns on college campuses go to: http://gofossilfree.org/campaigns/

Harvard Undergraduate Student Government polled students (November 2012) about divesting their endowment from fossil fuels and found that 72% of students voted in support of divesting their endowment from the fossil fuels industry

Students from Middlebury College, Smith College, Barnard College and Trinity College are in our investment consortium and have active divestment campaigns.