City of Ithaca Divests!

On Earth Day, April 22, 2013, the city of Ithaca, NY became the FIRST east coast city and the second in the world to divest from fossil fuels. In response to youth demands, following the Youth Power Summit, the city has agreed to divest from the fossil fuel industry (which is not hard- they currently have no investments in the industry!) and not invest any of its holdings into the further destruction of our planet. See the full press release here.

If our entire city can do it, why can’t we, Ithaca College??

Organizers of the 2013 Youth Power Summit demanded that the city of Ithaca Divest last Sunday, April 21.

Organizers of the 2013 Youth Power Summit demanded that the city of Ithaca divest at their action last Sunday, April 21.

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Agency & Urgency

Kaela Bamberger:

I want to write about two things. Agency and urgency.

Within agency there is ability, and accountability.

The beauty of the divestment movement is that within it, we all have agency. This is not saving children in a foreign country we’ve never seen, or even joining the struggle to save rainforests we’ve never been to.

The Ithaca College divestment campaign is made up of all of us that study at or graduated from, worked at or are associated with this institution. When I say all of us I mean those who are spearheading, participating, and are informed about this movement, and those who have never heard the word, and will never read this piece of writing.

This movement is made up of those who are meeting their agency, getting to know their agency, getting in jealous fights with their agency, eventually falling in love with their agency. This movement is also made up of those complicit. Those who will pass by their agency with maybe a nod on the quad, a pretty girl in the stairs up to your class in Friends.

Divestment at Ithaca College embraces all those who have ability. But it also creates a divide between those who have ability and those who have accountability. We all have agency, but not all of us are agents.

To accept accountability is not an easy thing. To acknowledge your simple presence at this institution makes you inherit the consequences of decisions you did not make seems unjust. To acknowledge your existence in this country is an inheritance of issues you did not cause, that you might not know about, this realization could be catastrophic for you.

But who else? The agency is ours. And urgency introduces us to our agency.

I won’t preach about how climate change is the most important issue we can care about, because what is most important is a individual belief. But this campaign is poignant and immediate, I’d go so far to say that asking Ithaca College to divest from fossil fuels is a right we have as students here. As people associated with and representing this institution, they are accountable to us to let us know where they are investing and even have a say in where.

The urgency is tangible. The agency is ours.

Administrative Correspondence: Rally to DivestIC!


Orange Square

The correspondence that we’ve had with the administration since the start of ELAN’s campaign (see these two posts) has led us to the email below, to VP of Finance and Investment Carl Sgrecci, President Tom Rochon, and Board of Trustees Secretary Nancy Pringle.

Please join us tomorrow, April 18th, at 12:05 pm on the free speech rock for our Rally to DivestIC so that we can show our administration that we are serious about divestment, and serious about inspiring agency and collaboration throughout our whole community.
___________________________________

April 15, 2013

From: The Environmental Leadership and Actions Network

To: President Rochon, Nancy Pringle, and Tom Grape

Dear Mr. Screcci, President Rochon, and Ms. Pringle

We would like to invite you to an on-campus event about which we are very excited. This Thursday April 18, at 12:00 pm at the Free Speech Rock, there will be a rally in support of divestment. We will be joining with every facet of the Ithaca College community: students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the greater Ithaca township. Each of these groups find themselves intractably motivated by a drive for climate justice, and each of them see divestment as a crucial tactic towards that goal. It is in this mindset that ELAN has invited these parties to the discussion regarding the appropriate and ethical use of Ithaca College’s endowment funds. It is also in this mindset that we are inviting you to join us at this event. We welcome you to witness the widespread support and momentum that this movement has inspired.

It is with complete transparency that we invite you to participate in this event, regardless of your compliance with our request, which are as follows:

a) We would like to invite President Rochon to accept the petitions we will be delivering during the rally.

b) We would like a commitment from Ms. Pringle to allow representatives of our constituency to present at the board meeting this coming fall.

c) And we are requesting that Mr. Screggici provide us with the complete list of companies in which our endowment is invested—information that we had previously agreed upon.

We will appreciate your presence at the rally on Thursday at 12:00, whether or not you come with a commitment to support our campaign. Please contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

The Environmental Leadership and Actions Network

It’s Bigger Than Just Divestment

Jessie Braverman:

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Photo by Ritza Francois

People talk about having life changing experiences, which I never really believed would happen to me. I don’t think I can say that one specific moment has immediately changed my life, but I do think some things that I have seen and experienced have changed my future and the decisionsthat I will make. Spending a week at Mountain Justice Spring Break in West Virginia and witnessing the effects of mountaintop removal and fracking while I was there affected me in really powerful and haunting ways.

On one of our first nights in West Virginia, anti-fracking activist Diane Pitcock generously invited us to her home to sit around a campfire, play music, roast marshmallows and see the destructive and polluting fracking operation that is taking place on her property. Diane’s dedication to tellinghers and other’s stories is really inspiring, and stems from the harassment she has received from the industry. It’s almost impossible to describe in words how walking onto her land for the first time felt. She is being diligently watched every second of every day, and her space is continuously being invaded. Right outside of her house is a radio that is constantly playing the workers’ intimidating conversations at a loud and corrosive volume. (For more information on Diane and her organization, you can visit http://www.wvhostfarms.org). Discussing and learningabout the destruction that the industry causes in the classroom is really important, but I don’t think you can fully understand it until you actually see it destroying life right in front of you.

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Spring 2013 Administrative Correspondence

February 20, 2013
From: Carl Sgreeci
To: The Environmental Leadership and Actions Network

Kathleen, I want to take this opportunity to follow up on our correspondence below in which we had indicated the Investment Committee of the College’s Board of Trustees was going to be taking up the issue of divestment from the fossil fuel industry at future meetings. The committee has spent considerable time discussing the issue at meetings in December and again last week. The following statement summarizes the position the Investment Committee has taken and which has been shared with the full Board of Trustees.

Statement from the Investment Committee Re: Divestment of investments in the fossil fuel industry.
The IC Board of Trustees appreciates the commitment to a sustainable energy future shown by the members of ELAN.  In that light, the Investment Committee of the Board has reviewed the demands by ELAN members that the IC endowment be altered to ensure that no college funds are invested in a list of companies identified by ELAN as involved in the fossil fuel industry.  After review, the Investment Committee has determined that it is not possible for IC to identify individual companies for exclusion from within large and diversified pooled investment funds.  We therefore cannot certify that no IC funds are invested in the companies named by ELAN.  The Investment Committee learned that at present less than one percent of the IC endowment is invested in the companies named by ELAN.  The Investment Committee determined that it will not in the foreseeable future commit IC endowment funds to any investment vehicle that focuses on investments in the fossil fuel industry.   The Investment Committee will in the future explore the possibility of opening a channel for future investment that follows the principles of socially responsible investing.

If you have any questions about the statement, let me know and I will do my best to address them.

Carl

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With Solidarity

Allison Currier: 

Living in a world with deep social and environmental injustice, it was never my choice to stand up against it.  I was raised in a home where equality and helping others were forefront.  When I came to Ithaca College, I had no hesitation to get involved in relevant issues on campus.  As I started learning more about environmental justice, I became infatuated.  I will not stand to live in a world where my comfortable lifestyle is at the cost of people’s livelihoods on the other side of our global community.  I will not support an industry that puts my Central American, Asian, African or fellow American sisters and brothers at risk.  And I will first and foremost not let my college invest its money in the fossil fuel industry that is marginalizing innocent people.

Last week I was awarded the Newman Civic Fellow Award by President Rochon. I want to take this time to thank him for this honor.  As explained on the Campus Compact website, “The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.”  I was surprised when I heard the news that Rochon had selected me personally for this prestigious award.

That being said, divestment is a part of who I am.  Living in a world of privilege, the IC community has a duty to hold its values of social and environmental justice high.  We have done this before when we divested from Apartheid and will divest again from Fossil Fuels!

In social movements, we don’t ask for change, we make change.  We are no longer asking or demanding Ithaca College divest from the fossil fuel industry.  In my opinion, we are simply divesting.  With allies in all corners of the IC community, we are not afraid of being told “no” or that divestment is “impossible” because that is just not the truth. Check out our most recent correspondence with Carl Sgrecci, the VP of Finance and Investment for Ithaca College.

So thank you again, President Rochon, for choosing me, Allison Currier, student organizer and activist, to lead the way for other aspiring college students to divest Ithaca College from the fossil fuel industry and create a just world for all.

Reopening the dialogue

On this Tuesday, February 12, Ithaca College’s Board of Trustees will hold their semester meeting in New York City. In order to ensure that divestment is on the agenda, DivestIC members sent the following email to President Tom Rochon, Board Secretary Nancy Pringle, and Board Chair Tom Grape. Coalition members seek to reopen the collaborative dialogue from last semester in order to keep working together towards our ultimate goal of full divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

February 7, 2013

From: The Environmental Leadership and Actions Network
To: President Rochon, Nancy Pringle, and Tom Grape

Dear President Rochon, Ms. Pringle, and Mr. Grape,

The spring semester is always an exciting time, full of hope and the promise of new perspectives. We have all returned from our winter vacations refreshed and re-energized, ready to take on a new semester in a new year. We have spent time gathering our resolve to make positive changes in ourselves and in our communities, and it is with this mind-set that we are hoping to resume the conversation of divestment and remind you of your commitment that divestment will be an agenda item at next week’s Board of Trustees meeting in New York City.

New beginnings are not spontaneously occurring, and fresh starts normally require some sort of introduction. And so, as a matter of such, we would like to refresh your memory regarding where we have been, so we can recognize where we are, and re-invite you to help us set the pace for where we’re going.

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