Every person wants to exist within a community that can build each member up. We all want to create a like-minded space that supports the positive values we all hold, and we want to be sure that we are not preventing others from doing the same. This desire for sincere, positive change led our club, the Environmental Leadership and Actions Network, to begin a our DivestIC campaign in the fall of 2012. We were a small club, made up mostly of Ithaca College students, who were at a loss as to what project to take on. But the growing power and support behind the national fossil fuel divestment campaign drew us in; we realized that our school giving money to the fossil fuel industry was contradictory to our lines of thinking.
The fossil fuel industry is the main catalyst pushing global climate change forward. Through the extraction, refining, transportation, and use of fossil fuels, we are experiencing ever-rising temperatures, climate shifts, and harmful social and economic effects. From melting ice caps to broken communities, the fossil fuel industry is an unsustainable, profit-driven, and dangerous actor in our global community.
One way that students (and others!) have found to combat such power is through divestment. Here’s how it works: every private institution has an endowment, which is made up of money that the school receives from tuition and outside donations. The endowment is invested into all aspects of the economy by the Board of Trustees, and the returns on these investments are what fund the institution. Ithaca College’s endowment is over $200 million, and we know for a fact that at least a portion of this money, our money, is being invested into the fossil fuel industry.
DivestIC, as a coalition of Ithaca College community members, is pushing for Ithaca College to divest (the opposite of invest) our endowment from the fossil fuel industry. This would be more than just a financial act, it is a way for our school to stand up to their commitment to sustainability and community support.
Last year, we focused on opening up a channel of communication with the administration, and getting the word out to the campus community about our campaign. Feel free to read through our past blog posts to see how far we’ve come.
This year, we hope to focus more strongly on the legitimization of our efforts, and to work towards creating a realistic and positive plan to make IC’s divestment from fossil fuels a reality. We want to show our administration and Board of Trustees that this is not only possible, but necessary. We know that divestment is an imperative step that we as members of our own communities must fight for, in order to build a positive and sustainable world.
And that’s where you come it. We are always looking for new dedicated members to join our coalition and help us move our campaign forward. You can start by signing the petition online here, and sharing it on your facebook or elsewhere. You can stay up to date with DivestIC by liking our facebook page, following this blog, or getting on our email listserve (just send your name and email to clubELAN144@gmail.com).
Our very first meeting of the semester will take place on Monday, September 9 at 8:00 pm in Friends Hall. We would love to see a ton of new faces, no experience or prior knowledge necessary. DivestIC is a positive, committed community, and together we can work to hold our school accountable for their actions, and start building a better world.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to message our facebook page, or email us at clubELAN144@gmail.com.