Briana Brady ’21
Divest Smith spoke to a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees about tackling new efforts to divest Smith from the fossil fuel industry on Feb. 22.
Julia Mettler-Grove ’21 is actively involved in the organization and spoke to The Sophian.
“Divest met with the the Advisory Committee for Investor Responsibility (ACIR), a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees responsible for controlling investments and maintaining endowment return, on Thursday morning to remind them of the importance of divesting from fossil fuels,” Mettler-Grove said. “When we met with them on Thursday, we continued to discuss full divestment from fossil fuels meeting resistance both from the ACIR and Investure [the fund manager for the endowment].”
“Divestment is not a new idea at Smith, this specific campaign began in 2012 but Smith has divested in the past: In 1987, Smithies held a successful five year campaign to ask Smith to divest their investments in South African stock to protest Apartheid; Smith has also divested from tobacco in 1997 and the Sudanese Genocide in 2006,” Mettler-Grove told The Sophian.
Divest Smith’s website lays out these goals and requests for the Board of Trustees.
“We aim to set investment standards that will establish Smith College as a model for an economically viable, socially proactive, and environmentally committed institution. We request that the Smith College Board of Trustees: 1. Freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies and commit now to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. 2. Publish an annual progress report about the exposure of Smith College’s endowment to the fossil fuel industry.”
The ongoing efforts made by members of the Divest organization to combat institutional investment in the fossil-fuel industry reflect the necessity for Smith to divest in order to continue to claim its leadership in environmental sustainability practices.
Divest also held a rally outside of College Hall last Thursday in the snowy, cold weather to further highlight the need for student and faculty support on campus. Despite the weather challenges, Divest drew attention from students and faculty alike, and both spoke to the crowd in attendance.
Mettler-Grove said of Thursday’s rally, “The energy and persistence of members of the Smith community to unify around divestment is hopeful.”
“With pushback from the administration, progress is likely to come slowly, but matched with consistent pressure from students and the Smith community to put our money where our mouth is and challenge Smith to address its flaws and take actions morally aligned with our stated values, divestment becomes increasingly likely,” Mettler-Grove continued. “As long as we continue to talk about divesting with one another and further educate ourselves of the complexities of divestment, we will be working towards a more morally aligned and self-aware Smith that lives up to its word.”