Happy Birthday – and a letter from SRIAC

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by Jocelyn Sawyer

1458448_10152659055516490_368393050_nThis month marked the second anniversary of the start of the REInvestment campaign. That’s two years since we joined a handful of other schools as a pilot campaign for a new movement. Two years since we were tabling in the Runyan student center and asking Earlhamites to “move their money” from a cardboard coal plant to tin foil solar panels. Two years of petitions, meetings, research, dreams and visions, frustration and inspiration.  So last Friday, we had a birthday party at the Rose City Coffee Co-op (with cake, of course) to celebrate the past two years.

But it wasn’t just an anniversary party.  Last Friday, December 6, we received the Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee gave us their first official response to our proposal for divestment.  (Click here for the full text of the letter).

Although SRIAC did not reject the REInvestment proposal, they have not made any moves to recommend divestment from fossil fuels.  SRIAC and REInvestment agree that there are cases in which divestment is an appropriate tactic.  The SRIAC also expressed a desire to continue working with REInvestment on this issue, and have not rejected our proposal entirely.  But according to the letter, “As a community, we lack unity on the issue,” and thus, “In the spirit of the Quaker Testimony of Integrity and our ongoing desire for consensues, we [SRIAC] do not find it consistent at this time to recommend divestment of all coal or other fossil fuel related investments”.

After two years of meetings, research, presentations, and negotiations, SRIAC has requested that we keep meeting and negotiating.

I am a third-year student who has been involved with this campaign since REInvestment and I were both starting our first semester, so needless to say, it has featured prominently in my Earlham experience.  But I’m ready to stop campaigning and see Earlham taking action.  In a campaign fueled by the urgency of the climate crisis and the human rights catastrophe around fossil fuel extraction, it’s hard for me to see this letter as a positive step forward.  And yet, inaction is not a “No” and REInvestment will not be backing down any time soon.  If we need to throw a third or fourth campaign birthday party to make sure Earlham stands by its values and against injustice, we’ll be there.  With cake.

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