“We’ve got overwhelming support by the board”
Student and faculty activists at Barnard College have successfully pushed a measure to divest from companies that “deny” climate change. Oddly, they have yet to define what makes one a denier.
Toni Airaksinen of Campus Reform reported:
Barnard College to divest from ‘climate deniers’
The move comes after years of activism by the student group Divest Barnard, which initially campaigned for Barnard to divest entirely from fossil fuel investments, according to The Columbia Spectator.
Yet the college will not be divesting from fossil fuels in the traditional sense.
Instead, it will take an approach that no other college has taken before, divesting from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”
The strategy was among five options outlined in a December report from the Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment, which was created last year in response to student agitation on the matter. The task force explored alternatives ranging from maintaining the status quo to full divestment, but devoted the most attention to its plan for divesting specifically from “climate deniers.”…
They contend that full divestment was rejected because the task force “firmly believed” that divestment from climate change deniers was “a better alternative,” adding that other colleges have demurred on full divestment on that grounds that it is not “linked to their core mission” of “truth.”
Neither the task force nor the Board has officially defined the term “climate change deniers,” however, leaving the job to interim president Rob Goldberg, who also served as chair of the task force.
The Columbia Spectator reports that the move received strong support from the board of trustees:
“We’ve got overwhelming support by the board,” Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldberg, who served as the chair of the task force, said. “I think the board is excited about this, we think it’s the right thing to do for the college, and now we just have the challenge of implementation, which we know will be the next big effort, and we’re looking forward to taking that on.”
Goldberg, who will officially become interim president of the college when Spar ends her term on Sunday, said that the first step following the board’s approval will be to come up with a working definition of “climate deniers.” Then, the college will look to analyze companies that may fit this criteria and work with an endowment manager to implement the new policy.
The group also sent out a press release to celebrate their victory against their unspecified adversaries:
This afternoon, Barnard College made history. In an unprecedented decision, the Board of Trustees voted in favor of divestment from coal, tar sands, and fossil fuel companies that deny the climate crisis. In a campus-wide email Barnard President Debora Spar announced that “At today’s Board meeting, the trustees unanimously approved a path-breaking recommendation from our Task Force to Examine Divestment that will put Barnard at the very forefront of organizations striving to have an impact on climate change and fossil fuel use.” Not only is Barnard the first women’s college committed to divestment from fossil fuel companies, but it is the first institution to take this groundbreaking climate denier approach…
Today was a victory, as is any opportunity for cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry for the global fossil fuel divestment movement. The process of divestment at Barnard is far from over, and Divest Barnard is excited to take on the challenges of defining climate deniers and implementing this new divestment approach. Barnard College has taken an inspiring step for climate action and Divest Barnard looks forward to continued climate action that promotes scientific fact, centers the Harlem/Morningside community, and galvanizes academic institutions across the country to take a stand for climate justice.
This is a hollow victory, since they can’t even define the supposed “deniers.”
It will however, make all the proponents feel better about themselves which seems to have been the point.
Featured image via YouTube.