The Oberlin Review

University of Wisconsin students protest the institution’s fossil fuel investments.

Across the Country, Colleges & Universities Move to Divest

April 22, 2020

As the issue of climate change has become increasingly salient, colleges and universities have come under increasing pressure to withdraw their investments wrapped up in different ways in the fossil fuel industry. These demands raise questions about the potential impact of fossil fuel divestment, as well as its financial and technical viability for educational institutions. Last year, the Review reported on the College endowment’s exposure to fossil fuels (College Maintains ‘Minimal Exposure...

College Maintains “Minimal Exposure” to Fossil Fuel Investments

Katie Lucey, News Editor

December 6, 2019

Five years after the Board of Trustees published an official Resolution for Divestment and established the Impact Investment Platform, Oberlin’s endowment remains partially invested in companies that benefit from the production and consumption of fossil fuels. “Oberlin still has minimal exposure to fossil fuel investments,” wrote Vice President for Finance and Administration Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings and Chief Investment Officer Jun Yang in a joint email statement to the Review. “However, they are legacy investments and the College has not made any new investment for several years.” In 2014, The Board allocated $5 million to fund the IIP and adopted an official Resolution for Divestment. Each year for the...

Group Expands Fossil Fuel Divestment Proposal

Sydney Allen

December 12, 2015

The Oberlin Fossil Fuel Divestment group is unsatisfied with the Board of Trustees’ noncommittal response to its divestment proposal and is firing back with an updated list of demands. The group is now calling for the Board to ban future investments and withdraw current holdings from 200 companies, up from the 12 companies identified in the previous proposal. “Even if [the Board] isn’t invested now, that doesn’t mean anything for future investments,” said Hayden Arp, double-degree junior and co-author of the divestment proposal. “For all we know, with the statement they made, they could have reinvested the day after they sent the email.” Board of Trustees Chair Clyde McGregor, OC ’74, told the five mem...

Board of Trustees Condones Violence

Students for a Free Palestine

October 9, 2015

To the Editors: It has now been two and a half years since Student Senate, reflecting the will of the Oberlin student body, passed a resolution to divest from six companies that profit from and perpetuate Israel’s occupation of Palestine. For a year and a half, the response from the Board of Trustees to this divestment resolution was one of silence and inaction. In that time, Israeli forces killed over 2,100 Palestinians — including 1,500 civilians and 500 children — during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. During the 51-day assault, Israeli forces targeted Gaza’s schools, hospitals, factories, mosques and water and power plants. Whole neighborhoods, such as Shuja’iyya, were destroyed; generations...

Mellon Mays Fellows Support SFP Divestment

Mellon Mays Fellows, Classes of 2015–2016

May 8, 2015

To the Editors: The Oberlin College Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship classes of 2015 and 2016 vehemently condemn the apartheid state of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and proudly endorse the Students for a Free Palestine’s divestment proposal. As members of the larger MMUF network, we understand firsthand the importance of acting in solidarity with other students of color, the significance of funding, academic institutions, the fellowship of institutions and speaking out against the illicit use of investments, which we, the beneficiaries, do not consent to. The fundamental objective of the MMUF program is to address, over time, the problem of underrepresentation in the academy at the level of college...

A group of students in favor of divesting the College from fossil fuels march in the Big Parade on Saturday, May 2. Students have submitted a divestment proposal to the Board of Trustees.

Students Lobby Trustees for Fossil Fuel Divestment

May 8, 2015

A group of five students — College sophomore Ellie Lezak, double-degree sophomore Hayden Arp, College sophomore Jasper Clarkberg, College first-year Naomi Roswell and College senior Stephen Lezak — is pushing the Board of Trustees to approve its proposal to divest the College’s endowment from fossil fuels. The Board is currently in the process of deciding how to proceed and may begin discussing the issue at its next meeting in June. Last June, the Board of Trustees released a divestment resoluti...

Senate Urges Trustees to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Student Senate

May 1, 2015

Student Senate unanimously approved this letter on Thursday, April 30, 2015. To the trustees of Oberlin College: Whereas: In June of 2014, the Board approved the Divestment Resolution, permitting students to submit proposals regarding the investment of the College endowment; In March 2015, a proposal was submitted calling for the College to divest all direct investments in the 12 most prolific greenhouse gas emitters between 1854 and 2010; Oberlin College has committed to carbon neutrality by 2025 as part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment; By partially funding its operations through the profits of the fossil fuel industry, whose products Oberlin has deemed too ha...

CES Faculty Support Divestment from Fossil Fuel

Committee on Environmental Sustainability

May 1, 2015

To the Oberlin Community: Faculty members appointed to serve on Oberlin College’s Committee on Environmental Sustainability unanimously support the student proposal that Oberlin College divest its holdings in the enumerated corporations whose operations are particularly counter to the College’s greenhouse gas emissions goal. In 2004, Oberlin College adopted a comprehensive environmental policy that called for a move towards zero net emissions of greenhouse gasses. The Committee on Environmental Sustainability was created through a motion by the General Faculty of Oberlin in 2006 with the express purpose of overseeing implementation of this environmental policy. In that same year the College was the first of its...

RIO Pushes Trustees for Transparency

Responsible Investing Organization

October 31, 2014

To the Editors: On Oct. 2 of this year, the Board of Trustees announced that it is accepting proposals for divestment of the endowment and outlined general criteria for evaluation. This news comes in addition to the announcement last year of the Impact Investing Platform, which will invest $5 million of the College’s endowment over the next five years in companies with a high social impact. Both actions show that the College is beginning to recognize the moral implications of its investments. This is especially impressive in a financial culture that so often directs its sole focus towards profit, and we commend the Board for its progress. That being said, we would like to push the Board of Trustees to go a bit...

OARE Commends Divestment Policy

Oberlin Alumni for a Responsible Endowment

October 10, 2014

To the Editors: Last week, the Oberlin College Board of Trustees released a groundbreaking policy for divestment. In a statement, the Office of Communications said: “In accordance with the College’s history of action in response to ‘instances of human suffering, natural calamity and injustice,’ the Board will consider proposals for divestment from entities that contribute to activities that ‘shock the conscience.’” In addition, the policy states that divestment proposals must cause “significant financial, reputational or other adverse impacts on the target of the divestment that may influence its behavior or the behavior of other similarly situated entities;” and that “the proposed divestment ......

College Allocates $5 Million To New Initiative

Oliver Bok

October 10, 2014

Two new policies concerning the College’s investments may make Oberlin finances more reflective of the ideals pushed by the faculty and student body. The College recently announced a new divestment policy through which members of the Oberlin community can request that the College divest from holdings in corporations that “shock the conscience.” In addition to the new divestment policy, the Board of Trustees has set aside $5 million from the endowment to be invested in “socially responsible” investments over the next five years as part of the Impact Investment Platform. According to the resolution adopted by the Board in June, all divestment requests will be assessed according to three criteri...

Cleveland resident Don Bryant speaks against Israeli occupation at a demonstration on Wednesday. SFP planted black flags in Wilder Bowl to call attention to the lives lost in Operation Protective Edge.

SFP Plants Flags in ‘Call to Action’

September 26, 2014

Students for a Free Palestine installed 2,133 black flags in Wilder Bowl this Wednesday in a call to action against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The flags represent the approximately 2,133 Palestinians killed in this summer’s Operation Protective Edge. “This is not a vigil,” said a sign posted in front of the display. “This is a call to action. It is a recognition of our complicity in these acts of violence. It is a refusal to be silent.” The sign also encouraged...

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