MHC Divest: The Fight for Climate Justice at Mount Holyoke

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MHC Divest is a campaign organized by the Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition (CJC). Our focus on justice arises from the need to bring attention to the global inequity of the current economic system, and the effects of climate change.

In pursuit of divestment, MHC Divest is organizing all stakeholders on the issue of divestment: Mount Holyoke students, alumnae, faculty, and staff. MHC Divest aims to work with the Administration and the Board of Trustees to redirect investments away from the fossil fuel industry. We urge Mount Holyoke to take the following steps:

  1. Immediately freeze further investments in the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies,
  2. Divest the approximately 2% of its endowment currently invested in fossil fuel companies within the next five years,
  3. Reinvest part of the endowment into environmentally and socially responsible enterprises.

MHC Divest launched in November 2012 and quickly gained the support of many students. During the spring of 2013, the group delivered petitions to President Lynn Pasquerella and participated in productive dialogue and educational opportunities on campus. In the spring of 2014, the group formally registered as Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition.

In spring 2014, MHC Divest organized a successful student referendum in which, of those who voted, 88% of students voted for Mount Holyoke to divest its endowment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Members of CJC attended the Intentionally Designed Endowments Conference in April 2014 with President Pasquerella and presented in a session on engaging in collaborative dialogue on campus. Last spring, MHC Divest also met with President Pasquerella and the Vice President of Finance, Shannon Gurek. Through that meeting, we were able to obtain a meeting with the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mary Davis, and two other members of the Board, as well as an invitation to the September meeting of the Investment Committee. Two members of MHC Divest attended this meeting, which took place in New York City, and made an impressive presentation to the entire Committee. Following that meeting, the group met with several Trustees in October. Seven members of MHC Divest attended the meeting, as well as Physics Professor Alexi Arango, and a student action occurred outside the meeting in order to encourage the Trustees to support divestment.

At this time, MHC Divest is focusing on building power in all parts of the Mount Holyoke community. In this way, we hope to show the Administration and the Board of Trustees that, not only is divestment a fantastic opportunity for Mount Holyoke to position itself as a leader, but also that the entire community supports divesting from fossil fuels. MHC Divest is working with passionate, collaborate alumnae on a letter-writing campaign, faculty on an open letter to the Administration urging Mount Holyoke to divest, and students (both at Mount Holyoke and other colleges) to form strong relationships and interest in divestment as a strategy for combatting climate change and fighting for climate justice.

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