Meeting with SRIAC

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by Jocelyn Sawyer

On November 2nd, 2012, Earlham’s REInvestment campaign met with our school’s Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee (SRIAC), the committee that informs the Board of Trustees regarding ethical investing. This was our second meeting with the SRAIC; our group presented to them last spring when we first announced our campaign, and they are still in the process of reviewing our proposal. Nothing was decided at this meeting – it was just a Q&A session. After questioning us REInvestment reps about our proposal, committee members promised to send us more questions via email to continue the conversation.

Overall, it was a good meeting. We were asked some tricky questions and thrown a couple curveballs, but we held our own. Our proposal was not rejected. We furthered our dialogue with the SRIAC. And we greatly appreciate their willingness to talk with us and consider our proposal. That said, we are very much looking forward to seeing the SRIAC take real action about Earlham’s coal investments, especially considering the pressing urgency of the issue. On the other hand, it’s been an incredible year for the divestment movement, as the number of schools with student-run divestment campaigns has surpassed 50 and two schools (Hampshire and Unity Colleges) have already made the commitment to divest from fossil fuels. We’re eager (to say the least) to see Earlham make that commitment too, and there’s no time like the present.

Even more positive than the meeting itself, however, was the action that took place outside the doors. More than twenty of our allies gathered in Carpenter Hall to show support for those of us in the meeting and the REInvestment campaign in genearl. We wanted to have a very positive action, to show our genuine appreciation towards SRIAC for even agreeing to talk with us and consider our requests, but we also wanted to show the committee that “REInvestment” is more than just the four students in their conference room. We know that our mission does in fact have tremendous support from EC students, and thanks to this action, SRIAC knows it too.

The action definitely sent both of these messages to the SRIAC members. Students held signs with slogans such as, “425+ EC Students Support REINvestment,” “Thank you SRIAC for reinvesting in our future!,” and, the most popular, “Sandy supports REInvestment.” After the REInvestment members left the conference room, we got to stand outside with our friends and watch the committee members, one by one, leave the room and be greeted by our supporters. Most of them took the time reach each sign and thank each person for coming.

The next question for REInvestment is, Where do we go from here? Obviously, we will continue to dialogue with the SRIAC. And we move forward, we will stay committed to maintaining a strong sense of transparency, communication, and respect between REInvestment, SRAIC, and the Earlham community as a whole.

However, we are cautious about dragging out said dialogue for an extensive amount of time without any resultant outcome. As we continue to talk, we’ll be building our support bases — here on campus, and alumni too — and we will be drawing on these support networks. We know we need to keep applying the pressure and showing the administration that the entire Earlham community wants REInvestment.

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