50 signatures reached
To: John Kroger and the Board of Trustees:
Fossil Free Reed
We reject the notion that our endowment affects only Reed college. For this reason we have three demands:
1) We ask the Board of Trustees to acknowledge that as Reed students and alumni, we act as shareholders in the college. As such, we believe we have the right to know where our money is invested and how investment decisions are made.
2) We ask the Board to use their influence to help continue our goal of carbon neutrality by freezing new investments in funds that hold stock of the 200 largest fossil fuel companies and divesting existing holdings in these funds within ten years. In the past, the Board has hesitated to divest in order to preserve institutional neutrality and the strength of the endowment. We do not believe divestment will compromise these concerns.
3) We ask the Board to continue its work with students and faculty to make Reed a carbon conscious campus.
Why is this important?
Divestment is not a political issue. It’s a moral issue. It is about global warming and the impact it’s having and will have on ecosystems and people across the world. Being invested in fossil fuel companies is being invested in the continued warming of our planet and harm done to billions worldwide.
Divestment will not harm the Reed Endowment
Fossil Free Reed is advocating for fossil fuel divestment not only because we believe it is a moral action, but also because it is the fiscally responsible choice. As it stands, harmful externalities associated with the fossil fuel industry are absorbed by individuals and the environment. For this reason, fossil fuels are priced above their market value creating what has been termed the “Carbon Bubble.” By investing in fossil fuels, Reed College is presuming that, in the future, policy levers will not be employed to price fossil fuels accurately.
Arguably, however, a ‘future’ where fossil fuels are considered inefficient investment is not so distant. After the recent climate talks in Paris, many newspapers announced “The death of the Fossil Fuel Industry” following commitments by world leaders to drastically cut carbon emissions. Combined with political action such as Obama’s Clean Power Plan, demand for fossil fuels has already decreased. At time of writing, 3.4 trillion institutional dollars have been divested from fossil fuel companies by groups ranging from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Lutheran World Federation to the ten campuses of the University of California.
Call to action
Fossil Free Reed would immediately reject any plan to divest from fossil fuels which would harm the endowment and members could not remain in good conscience were we advocating a plan for divestment which would diminish financial aid funds. We do not, however, believe this to be the case.
We believe that the Reed Board of Trustees have a fiduciary duty to recognize that Reed owns one of the greatest long-term risks on the market: fossil fuel investments. Failure to recognize the inherent risk in fossil fuel investments greatly endangers the portfolio—and financial aid funds—over the long-term. We also reject the notion that the endowment impacts just Reed, and for this reason we believe that Honor Principle necessitates ethically responsible investing.
Fossil Free Reed understand that change necessitates deliberate action and precision. As it stands Fossil Free Reed is asking for divestment and reinvestment over a span of ten years. We ask for the Board to freeze new fossil fuel investments and join the student body and staff in making Reed a more carbon neutral campus. In taking steps towards these actions, we ask that the Board disclose where the endowment is invested, and lastly, acknowledgement that our endowment serves more than the Reed, and Reedies care where our funds are invested. We ask for continued communication and support in this process.
Sincerely, Fossil Free Reed