On Tuesday, January 26th, at 4:30pm, Fossil Free Yale, a student organization calling for the Yale endowment’s divestment from Fossil Fuels, presented at an open meeting with the ACIR (Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility). The ACIR advises the Yale Corporation on ethical investment of the endowment. Forty-five students and a handful of faculty and community supporters showed up to the public meeting at the Yale Law School, where Fossil Free Yale representatives presented their new proposal. It argued for fossil fuel divestment on the grounds that the grave social and environmental injuries caused by the fossil fuel industry require that Yale take action to maintain its standards of ethical investing. After presenting the proposal, Fossil Free Yale asked the ACIR to publicly declare their support of fossil fuel divestment, pass the new proposal on to the Yale Corporation, and increase transparency in their meetings with the Corporation. Members of Fossil Free Yale, and their supporters, left the meeting following their presentation, symbolizing their desire for immediate action. They stated on Tuesday that, going forward, they will be focusing on organizing and amplifying student voice on Yale’s campus.
The meeting is part of a long history of engagement between the ACIR and Fossil Free Yale; this was the ninth time that the two groups have met. The ACIR’s primary role has been to present Fossil Free Yale’s divestment proposals and recommendations for divestment policy to the CCIR (Corporate Committee on Investor Responsibility), which provides direct guidance for the Yale Corporation’s use of the endowment. Up until this point, the ACIR’s recommendations have been private, and Fossil Free Yale has been excluded from all meetings with the CCIR.
Fossil Free Yale has been running an active campaign for divestment for three years and organized a 49 person sit-in in Woodbridge Hall last April, during which 19 arrests were made. They have demonstrated student support and commitment to divestment, but have been met with administrative inaction.
“We feel that we have exhausted the ACIR as an administrative channel. After years of meetings and three separate proposals, it’s time for the ACIR to make public their recommendation and fulfill their responsibility to advise ethically,” said Phoebe Chatfield ‘18. “It is our hope that we and the ACIR can stand together in support of fossil fuel divestment while our campaign pursues more direct action.”
You can read our new report here: Report to the ACIR 1.25.2016