Dear Yale Corporation:
As a graduate of Yale University, I know firsthand the high quality of education provided to students. I appreciate not only the education I received, but also the values that Yale instilled in me—a critical perspective on the world and a focus on social justice. I am also proud that the college has become a leader in sustainability and has sought to involve students and alumni in decision-making.
Considering Yale’s leadership on sustainability, I find it contradictory that Yale invests its endowment—and therefore alumni donations—in the fossil fuel industry. Education of thought leaders cannot be funded by immoral investments, especially ones that harm that planet and society in which all of us must live and work. Extraction and consumption of fossil fuels pollute the natural environment, deteriorate health, and exacerbate climate change. Though we all feel these impacts, they disproportionately affect poor communities and communities of color, many of which have been struggling against local pollution and exploitation by particular fossil fuel companies for decades.
Unfortunately, efforts to transition away from fossil fuels have been hindered by the industry’s political contributions and connections, and active financial investment from institutions like ours. This is where Yale can play a role by publicly ending its investments in fossil fuels. I urge the Yale Corporation to divest the University’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry. A mass divestment movement may eventually affect these corporations’ bottom lines, but will immediately call the question of their activities in the court of public opinion, aiding local communities’ efforts to reclaim their land, health, and economies. Many thought leaders have joined students on more than 300 campuses across the country in calling for divestment. Students have already raised this issue on campus, giving Yale the opportunity to lead this blossoming movement.
Divestment also opens the door for reinvesting Yale’s endowment in ways that not only deliver good returns but benefit the community. I believe that the university should, in addition to divesting, ensure that its entire endowment is sustainably managed. Our institution has a stated mission and enshrines our values in policies that affect all campus operations. Adding such values to our investment criteria would not only strengthen our mission, it would also provide a superb example of the active ownership our graduates should seek to practice. Reliance on fossil fuels is an environmental and human rights crisis that demands bold action. I ask that the Yale Corporation divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry.
[Class of ‘XX]