“We appreciate your transparency.”
From Jessie Braverman, first time activist:
Wednesday marked the first time our coalition opened up a dialogue with the Board of Trustees and asked them to divest from fossil fuels and to invest in socially responsible businesses. Ten confident and inspired activists lined up outside the Board of Trustees’ banquet to show the board members that we are serious, and are here to stay!
Walking towards Emerson Suites, my hands were shaking and my heart was racing as I was about to participate in my first action EVER. I hadn’t felt that nervous in a long time, but it quickly transformed into a euphoria of excitement. Standing outside the Board of Trustees banquet that evening seemed so cold and dark, but I felt an aura of warmth and passion radiating from our group. When I held the sign that read “Will you help us, Mr. Fuchs?” a sense of leadership and empowerment washed over me. I felt incredibly confident in what I was doing, and so proud to be standing up for an issue that is so INCREDIBLY important. All of my worries suddenly didn’t matter, and the most important thing was the issue at hand. Standing in solidarity with other students, who are so intelligent and enthusiastic, was so moving, and I felt that we could accomplish anything in that moment.
I still feel confident that we can change the world, starting with this crucial step of influencing Ithaca College and other schools across the country to divest from fossil fuels. I believe that we, Ithaca College, can unite to win this fight against the dirty energy that is destroying our beautiful planet.
From Ren Ostry, President of ELAN:
The first words ever spoken to me by Ithaca College’s President Rochon were, “I heard about the action you’re planning on the radio this morning!” Media goals: achieved! In fact, a lot was achieved by our divestment coalition this week. In preparing for a peaceful presence at the Board of Trustees banquet dinner, word spread quickly that ELAN had something in the works. Our group was contacted by the VP of campus affairs, and we were offered a 15 minute meeting with the chair of the Board and the President of our college – to happen a short two hours after the invite.
We organized quickly and prepared an agenda, a list of demands, and scrutinized over word choice, power dynamics, long-term campaign strategy, even bargaining philosophy. By 5 o’clock, we were ready to meet the President. Agenda in hand and borrowed blazers on our shoulders, the shocked looks on our adversaries’ faces came as no surprise: we were thorough, powerful, and prepared.
Our group shared our 2015 goals: 100% divestment from the fossil fuel industry, full transparency regarding IC’s endowment and investments, and the creation of a task force to monitor socially responsible investment. But we spent the bulk of the meeting discussing our goal for the year: Kat, Allison, and I presented President Rochon, secretary Pringle, and board chair Grape with a list of sixteen fossil fuel companies we believe to be the worst of the worst. (Thanks to Swarthmore for researching these companies!) Our group asked for full divestment from these 16 companies by the end of the year, with a preliminary answer in one month’s time and a written statement that they were actively working towards divestment by the next Board meeting (February 13).
After our meeting, our group got together for a debrief and celebration. We know the administration is taking our campaign seriously, and we truly believe Ithaca College can be one of the first colleges to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Stay tuned for more campaign updates!