Alumni Petition

Last semester was huge for the fossil fuel divestment campaign at Swarthmore.  Swarthmore’s largest financial consultant, Cambridge Associates, announced that it is willing to actively assist Swarthmore in divesting from fossil fuels, meaning a plan for divestment is now just a phone call away. Then, 100 students delivered a petition to the Board’s December meeting signed by over 800 students (a majority of the student body!) calling on the College to pursue fossil fuel divestment and act on this opportunity to align our investments with our institutional values.

In the three years since it began here at Swarthmore College, the international divestment movement has grown to over 500 campaigns around the world. The movement has assembled a groundbreaking coalition of universities, cities, religious institutions, and world leaders including World Bank President Jim Yong-Kim, U.N climate chief Christiana Figueres ‘79, and U.N General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.  The Rockefeller Foundation (built off the wealth of Standard Oil Company), major Swedish and Norwegian pension funds valued at over $100 billion, and Stanford University all made divestment commitments in 2014.

Their message is clear: fossil fuel investments are incompatible with a just and sustainable future. Every year, climate change and our fossil fueled energy infrastructure causes millions of deaths, and the potential damage wrought by unchecked fossil fuel extraction is unthinkable. In this historic context, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make Swarthmore a leader in this international movement and live up to our institutional value of social responsibility by ending investments in deadly fossil fuels and reinvesting in the growing, sustainable economy.


Petition Text:

I want Swarthmore College, as an institution deeply committed to justice, sustainability, and civic responsibility, to take leadership on what is a defining issue of our time by divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in just and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. I call on the Swarthmore Board of Managers to promptly develop a plan for divestment.

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Recent alumni comments:

I am writing to urge Swarthmore’s Boartd of Trustees to divest our portfolio from fossil fuels. To be honest, I am both surprised and disappointed that Swarthmore has not chosen to lead on this issue given that climate change is without a doubt the defining issue of our time. Fossil fuel corporations are doing everything in their power to continue to be allowed to pollute the air and water for free, leaving the citizens to deal with the consequences. Only by generating enough external pressure can we bring about change and I urge the Board to position Swarthmore as an institution at the front of this campaign. As someone with an MBA degree specializing in Finance and Accounting, I was already skeptical of Swarthmore’s official stance that it would be too difficult to divest from fossil fuel companies while still being able to invest in mutual funds. The recent announcement by Cambridge Associates that they will actively assist institutional investors with fossil fuel divestment clearly addresses this concern. There is no longer any reason, either moral or fiscal, for Swarthmore College to continue to sit on the sidelines in this campaign against corporate polluters. Please do the right thing.

Thank you, Kalan Ickes ‘92, MBA, PhD Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences Clemson University


For the past two years of Annual Giving to Swarthmore, I and my spouse, Denis Newbold ’71, have withheld our yearly giving due to the College’s inaction on precisely this issue, divestment from a particular panel of fossil fuel business entities. We described to each phone-a-thon caller why we were withholding our joint donations. Before that, we had given to the College every year since graduation. I anticipate seeing the College live up to its leadership role for the common good by divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in the well being of us all. Also, I look forward to the opportunity to resume Annual Giving as a Quaker Matchbox family (one daughter, too, is an alumua) .

Gail Newbold ’71

The fact that’s there is even a debate about divestment feels to me the way there is a “debate” about anthropogenic climate change.

Ladulé Lako Losarah ’09

I am withholding my annual contribution until the college has a plan to divest.

Alice Swift ’61

I will not consider donating any money to swarthmore while there is a chance it will be invested in fossil fuels.

Rabi Whitaker ’03

The Board of Managers finds themselves on the wrong side of history and at odds with the ethos of social justice the college claims to embody. Divestment would signal a commitment to sustainability that is fundamental to the health of our planet and our communities.

Sarah Diamond ’13

I will not donate until I am sure my donation will be invested sustainably

Colin Schimmelfing ’10

Now is the time for Swarthmore to divest completely from all fossil fuels. It’s time for Swarthmore to practice what it preaches and no longer benefit financially from companies that are creating the rapid destablization of the climate, on which our lives and all life depends.

Brendan Kelly ’92

Swarthmore has an opportunity to align it’s dollars with it’s values and be a leader here. I hope they see what a key role they can and should play. Money matters and we can send a message stronger than any words or march.

Rebecca Towne ’96

Swarthmore College has been, and should continue to be, a leader in the academic world. As such, decisions about its financial affairs and operations should be based on solid science, ethics, educational practice, and the core values of the institution. That must include recognition of climate science, which has warned us clearly and repeatedly about the dangers of continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Divestment is vital to Swarthmore’s future and to the public interest.

Mark Gromko ’72

It is shocking that Swarthmore College, the birthplace of the college fossil fuel divestment movement, has dragged its feet in taking this important step. My wife and I are putting our college donations into escrow until Swarthmore takes this action.

Spencer Putnam ’67

Divesting of fossil fuels will be a monumental shift for the college, for the entire divestment movement, and for the reclaiming of the world’s energy future and safety by ordinary citizens. This moment in history is as important as the abolition of slavery, the attainment of rights for women, the fall of the Berlin Wall — only more so, because the beneficiaries of clean energy will be every living thing on the planet, including every human being. When the Board of Managers makes this step, I will be enormously proud of the college, and grateful for the societal transition it is supporting. Friends, the moment is surely now.

Judy Asselin ’75

I pledge to increase my gift to $500 for the annual fund donation if Swarthmore takes Cambridge Associates up on their offer.

Quaker matchbox pair Kari Tetzlaff ’95 and Sam Ehrlichman ’95

This is a wonderful opportunity for the College to maintain its commitment of advocacy for justice of all kinds. Taking this action will make me feel that Swarthmore is indeed the institution of which I was so proud to be an alumna!

Judith Fletcher ’72

I was discouraged last June at the statements by the board chair and former president. Working towards a “green” campus and teaching students about energy issues — which they said were both happening — are not enough. Divesting in this responsible way will be important for the college and for the world.

Ann Lesch ’66



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