by David Masterson and Bryn Shank
So far this semester, REInvestment has met with the Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee (SRIAC) two times. These meetings were both discussions of our updated and expanded proposal for divestment, which we submitted to the committee in September.
In the first meeting, on October 3rd, we discussed the proposal and clarified points of our ask for divestment from coal, tar sands, and fracking companies. The main topic of discussion was fracking: specifically, does fracking involve significant enough environmental harm to warrant divestment from all fracking companies? SRIAC raised questions about the technical fracking process, the possibility in the industry to control or minimize leakages into the groundwater, and whether or not natural gas is a necessary “bridge fuel” for shifting to renewable energy. (REInvestment remains firm on our stance that divestment from fracking companies is indeed the right move for Earlham).
On November 7th, we met with SRIAC for a second time and had a great discussion about moving forward towards a decision on our proposal. In the past we have talked a lot about the research REInvestment has done on fossil fuel extraction methods; in this past meeting, we moved to talking about collaborative research that REInvestment and SRIAC could do together. As a result of our meeting, we are currently working with SRIAC to plan a series of forums about fracking, tar sands, and coal. The goal of these forums is to get a scholarly perspective on the issue from Earlham’s own professors. We will be asking professors from the Environmental Science department to speak to the question of whether fossil fuel extraction constitutes an “irresponsible use of the natural environment”, and professors from the social sciences will discuss whether these practices lead to a “denigration of human dignity”. We hope these forums will provide a common ground on which REInvestment and SRIAC can base our future discussions.
SRIAC’s next meeting will be on December 6th, and they will be meeting with the BDS campaign. If you are around campus, please come join us to show support for BDS at 11:45am in the Landrum Bolling Center (LBC), just as they did for us during our last meeting!