PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
14 February 2015
60 Swarthmore College Students Pledge to Take Bold Action to Pressure Board to Divest College’s $1.8 Billion Endowment from Fossil Fuels
SWARTHMORE, PA — On Friday evening, dozens of students, faculty, alumni, and community supporters gathered to launch the national Divestment Escalation Pledge at Swarthmore College. Following the Swarthmore Board of Managers’ unwillingness to move forward with a proposal for divestment, over 50 students pledged to take bold action this spring to pressure the Board of Managers to divest the College’s $1.8 billion endowment from fossil fuels.
The event was part of an international day of action, Global Divestment Day. Thousands around the world took action calling on their cities, states, universities, and faith institutions to divest from fossil fuels.
Swarthmore Mountain Justice’s campaign has been active for over three years and was one of the first of a growing movement. On more than 500 campuses across the United States, students and faculty have organized to demand that their endowments divest from fossil fuels. At Swarthmore, the divestment campaign is growing too. 970 students, over 60% of the student body, nearly half of the faculty, and over 700 alumni have called on the Board to divest from fossil fuels.
On February 2nd, Swarthmore Mountain Justice brought a plan to the Board, developed in consultation with the Swarthmore College Finance and Investments Office, for how Swarthmore could divest by 2020. “It became clear that the Board had no intention of allowing any proposal for divestment to be discussed by the full Board,” Stephen O’Hanlon, a sophomore and member of the campaign said.
“Despite the mandate from the College community, the Board of Managers has repeatedly refused to move forward with divestment,” says Sara Blazevic, a senior and member of the campaign. “Over the past three years, we have met over 30 times with members of the Board and the administration. It’s clear now that negotiation alone is not going to lead us to fossil fuel divestment.”
This spring, Mountain Justice is preparing to take bold action calling on the Board to respond to the community mandate for divestment. “We know every successful social movement for justice and equality reaches this point – when negotiations can lead no further and when bold action becomes necessary to shine a spotlight on injustice and force those in power to take responsibility,” Guido Girgenti, a senior and member of the campaign said.
“By committing to escalate our campaign we are affirming Swarthmore’s values and Quaker heritage,” said Sophia Zaia, a freshman and member of the campaign. “By taking bold action to demand social justice, we are upholding the very values this school has helped foster in us and capitalizing on the best our education has to offer.”
Swarthmore Mountain Justice (swatmj.org) is a student group at Swarthmore College and founded the first fossil fuel divestment campaign. There are now over 500 fossil fuel divestment campaigns worldwide. Swarthmore Mountain Justice is calling on the Swarthmore College Board of Managers to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.
Mountain Justice member Sara Blazevic talking about her work helping coordinate escalation across campuses nationwide during Swarthmore Mountain Justice teach-in and training on Feb 13th.
Peace and Conflict Studies Professor Lee Smithey speaking on the importance of social movements and the power of nonviolent direct action.