1. Our Principles & Practices call for it.
When we began our campaign began in 2011, we were inspired by the values and principles of Earlham College, specifically the visions of promoting environmental responsibility and championing social justice. These values come from the Quaker roots and principles that distinguish Earlham from other liberal arts colleges, and they are the same values behind our five college Principles & Practices: Respect for Persons, Integrity, Peace & Justice, Simplicity, and Community. The practices of the fossil fuel industry violate each of these principles.
Divestment is a necessary choice for Earlham if we want to stand by our principles. The fossil fuel industry is responsible for the injustices caused by extreme extraction and climate change, and investment in injustice goes against Earlham’s values. For Earlham to align its money with its values and stand by its principles would make a powerful statement about the integrity of our institution. Divestment is the ethical choice for Earlham to practice its principles and live by its values.
2. Our Socially Responsible Investment Policy calls for it.
The P&P influence the daily functioning of the college and inform what kind of community we aim to be. They have also shaped college policy – including our Socially Responsible Investment Policy, which is supposed to guide our financial investments so that our actions there align with our P&P. But although the policy says we should minimize our investment in companies whose actions result in “irresponsible use of the natural environment and/or denigrates the dignity of individuals,” Earlham is still invested in fossil fuels. These investments violate our SRI policy.
3. Our generation is calling for it.
When REInvestment began, we were one of the first groups in the country working on fossil fuel divestment – but in the last four years, and incredible and beautiful movement has erupted. Now, REInvestment is one of hundreds of student campaigns across the country and around the world that are pressuring colleges and universities to divest fossil fuels, and dozens of schools have already made the commitment. If all of our institutions stand together and declare that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels is immoral, it would send a powerful message and go a long way towards shifting public opinion, loosening the grasp that fossil fuels have on our governments, and push us to develop new alternatives and realize creative solutions.
Now more than ever before, youth are rising up to stand against fossil fuels and climate destruction. This is an exciting and important political moment, and Earlham does not have the option of remaining neutral. In the future, when we look back and ask Earlham which side of history they stood on, what answer will find?