Thoughts on Divestment

by Imani Hall

I consider myself a realist. I therefore try not to have too much faith in the willingness of the societal structure, in which we all participate and which we all  perpetuate, to change– because there is a lot to change. That being said,  I think that there are many changes that we can make in order to make this world a better place, and I am completely on board with doing all I can to help make those changes so that we can as a society can have a better tomorrow.

A better tomorrow stems off of many choices made today, divestment being one of them. I love the divestment movement here at Ithaca College because it is a group of students coming together under something they agree on and know could make a difference if implemented and is something that is a key part of college. Although I understand the change and societal shift that divestment can create, I do not think that it will be an easy battle to win here at IC based on the facts that the trustee board has many people staked in the fossil fuel industry, that Ithaca College is in a precarious money situation at the moment, and that the student body is not fully aware of what divestment is nor why it is important. All together these make the process more difficult. The fact that many trustee members are invested in the fossil fuel industry already makes those members possibly biased to the notion and possibility of divestment meaning that there could be people on the board against divestment for personal economic reasons. One must also understand that the college is perceived by its students as strapped for money due to the fact that there are many incentives for IC 20/20 that require investments and capital. Because of this the school needs to make sure that it gets the most money on its return, making the Board of Trustees hesitant to divest if there is a chance that the return will not be as great. In relation to student push, it seems as if the ones who know about it support it, but a massive amount of the student body is ignorant of what divestment is and blind to why it is important, making it hard to get the number of people needed to show the administration that it is a change the students want.

Although these many hindrances need to be resolved sooner or later if divestment is going to work, I personally believe that the divestment process here at Ithaca College is at a good place. The DivestIC campaign recently had a meeting with the chairman of the Board of Trustees as well as the chair to the Investment Committee on the Board, and the meeting seemed to have gone well, where both sides are now understood and have agreed to work together.

Currently IC is in a good spot, which will hopefully only get better. Divestment is a big step for all institutions yet in this stage of the game can be critical. Ithaca College is not really known as a trendsetter in anything. Although a unique environment with great faculty and staff, as an institution there has not been many things we have done to set trends nationally. Due to the lack of financial resources there is reluctance for the school to take chances on what could possibly shift academia. This could be it – our opportunity. Less than 10 institutions of higher education have divested so far. Based on the actions of the student body and the Board, Ithaca College could go down in history as one of the top ten– or not. When looking to the future, the movement can only get bigger and the students will not stop fighting for what they believe in.

In a way divestment is inevitable. Hopefully Ithaca College can be on one of the first on the right side of history, after all, aren’t we all on a quest for a sustainable future?


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