For Immediate Release
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Panel on Fossil Fuel Divestment
February 8th, 2016
This evening from 4:00-5:30 pm, Divest Barnard and the Barnard Administration co-hosted a panel discussion on “Fossil Fuel Divestment and Investment Management” featuring Hugh Lawson (Managing Director at Goldman Sachs), Alaina Gilligo (NYC First Deputy Comptroller) Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr (D-NJ) (Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee) and Marcie Smith (Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition). The panel began with opening statements by President Spar, followed by Evelyn Mayo the Co-Founder and representative from Divest Barnard.
Mayo celebrated the creation of the Task Force and the progress the campaign has made broadly as she stated “[Divest Barnard] proudly stand[s] here today with 30 active members, over 700 signatures of support, and in the recent SGA referendum, 96% of the voting population was in favor”. She also remained critical of the outcome of the panelists discussion as Divest Barnard “[expects] Barnard to look at the value of its endowment beyond solely increased economic gains” emphasizing that “Barnard is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide its students with the skills and tools to live fulfilling and successful lives”.
The panelists all came to the table with varying views on whether divestment was necessarily the most effective strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change, but did all agree that climate change is one of, if not the largest threat to our common futures. Divest Barnard organizer Maggie Israel (BC ‘19) believed that despite being overall a good dialogue “more time was needed for a properly in depth discussion”. Given the format of the discussion, there was little time to discuss specifically how Barnard could actually approach divestment. DB Organizer Camila Puig (BC ‘17) affirmed that the discussion was “representative of how complex the issue is and how it encompasses finance, economics, politics, activism”.
As Marcie Smith from REC addressed, “It’s important to say that [climate change] is really scary. The only way I can see us getting out of this crisis is assessing how much power we have and how we can leverage it”. The slippery slope that the Administration and Board of Trustees are so scared to embark on regarding how we draw the line of what should or should not be invested in, mirrors the fear that our generation feels about our current societal trajectory. Mayo closed out the discussion expressing that throughout her “entire life, we’ve been on a slippery slope to destruction” and we now have a chance to begin reversing that fate.
Thank you all for coming to the event, and feel free to see our live coverage of the panel discussion on the event page linked to our Facebook page.