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Barnard College to Divest from Undefined ‘Climate Change Deniers’

Barnard College to Divest from Undefined ‘Climate Change Deniers’

“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:

Divestment Victory

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.


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there is no stupidity like well-educated stupidity… 😎

(for various values of “well educated”, of course)

casualobserver | March 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm

The fear of losing the argument is palpable. Of course, there hasn’t ever been real debate. But clearly those most invested are freaking at the slightest pendulum swing. And it makes sense for the intolerant and nearly un-democratic halls of academia to take this action.

rabid wombat | March 10, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Do any of the “divestment” crowd ever get sued for failing their fiduciary responsibility?

… will put Barnard at the very forefront of organizations striving to have an impact on climate change and fossil fuel use.

An odd fantasy. To the contrary, divestment takes Barnard out of the “conversation” altogether. A large shareholder at least has votes at shareholder’s meetings, and could in principle steer the company toward whatever unscientific silliness it pleases. But a divested party (i.e., a non-shareholder) has nothing at all to say in company affairs.

Divestment of financial holdings doesn’t hurt the target corporation in the least.

    Fiftycaltx in reply to tom swift. | March 11, 2017 at 10:14 am

    They should “invest” in the future of the world, solar and electric cars. I’ll bet we can find them some Solyandra, Solar City and Whiska stock pretty cheap.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | March 10, 2017 at 5:20 pm


“WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is seeking the resignations of 46 United States attorneys who were appointed during the prior (OBAMA) presidential administration, the Justice Department said Friday.”

    Good. It should not be a problem since the US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. They are not protected by civil service protections since they are not civil servants.

      Tom Servo in reply to rabidfox. | March 10, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Bill Clinton famously fired every US Attorney at the beginning of his administration, to the applause of his party. GWB fired 8 US Attorneys in the middle of his 2nd term, which raised great howls from the left, who claimed that it was only ok to fire US Attorneys at the beginning of the administration, not in the middle. Yeah, that’s nonsensical, but lesson learned: Automatically fire all US Attorneys at the beginning of every term. That’s the rules the Democrats made, that’s the rules they get to live with.

Does that college have a math department or is it all studies

Baby Elephant | March 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm

So, If they decide to label the Trump Administration deniers will that mean they will stop taking Federal funds?

Maybe they should just shut off the heat and air conditioning and “divest” themselves of all items that have petroleum based components on campus.

Make sure none of the board or any of the students ever drive or ride in anything that uses any type fossil fuel for it’s power.

Down go the admission requests…

At least they all feel good about it!!

Methane emissions from the animals at BarnYard.

The divest nuts haven’t thought their actions through. The stock doesn’t go away just because they sell it. It is bought by someone else who is happy to make the money from ownership of the stock.