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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Alumni support divestment from fossil fuels

Dear Grinnell Community, Editors, President Kington and the Board of Trustees:

Climate change is a biological, economic and political reality with critical implications on a global scale. Simply stated, the science is unequivocal. Greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for global warming, which results in an increase in frequency and severity of weather events and major changes in climate systems (i.e., climate change). Extreme heat, intense precipitation and droughts have increased in recent decades in the United States and around the world as the climate warms, resulting in deaths, property damage and threatening food production (Greenough, 2001; Rosenzweig, 2001). Importantly, animals and plants that make up the fundamental components of the very ecosystem that humans rely on for goods and services are also under threat from climate change (Parmesan and Yohe, 2003; Thuiller, 2005).

In addition, people, communities and nations experiencing poverty suffer the bulk of damages from climate change (Mendelsohn, Dinar and Williams, 2006). As such, taking steps to mitigate the effects of climate change is a justice issue and one that should be seriously considered by institutions and people who consider themselves allies of marginalized groups. Climate-related hazards affect poor people’s lives through direct impacts on livelihoods, reductions in crop yields and destruction of homes and indirectly through increased food prices and food insecurity (IPCC, 2014). The heightened vulnerability of poor communities is exacerbated by intersectional inequalities that make people and groups who experience oppression due to gender, race, class, ethnicity, age and (dis)ability disproportionately vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change (IPCC, 2014). As a privileged institution, the College has a social mandate to combat climate change both for our own interest and in solidarity with marginalized communities to manifest social, economic and environmental justice. Decreasing greenhouse emissions is not only required for a sustainable future, but is also a moral imperative.

The College can best influence the trajectory of climate change by divesting from unsustainable fossil fuels. Opportunities for responsible investing, such as “green” funds that allow donors to support fossil-fuel free investment, exist and have been proposed by President Kington. Further, renewable energy is becoming an increasingly valuable investment (Zindler and Locklin, 2016). However, these measures will not sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore, are unacceptable as the sole component of Grinnell’s involvement. While student and alumni led actions, such as withholding donations barring divestment, have been used at our peer institutions, these methods have thus far failed to be effective. We affirm, additionally, that it is not the responsibility of students or alumni to propose a comprehensive plan for divestment. Without access to the particulars of the college’s finances, this is an unrealistic proposal. Rather, it is the college’s responsibility, through discussions with the Grinnell community, to find an innovative and effective path to divestment.

Already nineteen U.S. colleges and universities, including Syracuse University, which has an endowment of 1.157 billion USD, and many more municipalities have divested or are working towards divestment. Notably, as of March 13, 2017, Columbia University has committed to divestment from companies deriving more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production. We urge the administration and board of trustees to join these institutions and municipalities, follow in the College tradition of justice and innovation and become a leader in this area.

As proud alumni, we whole heartedly and enthusiastically endorse full divestment from fossil fuel interests in solidarity with the on-campus #DivestGrinnell movement. We call on President Kington to facilitate a campus-wide discussion on divestment, with the intention of opening the conversation up to all interested parties and crafting a policy that follows the ideals outlined above. We support and encourage a shift towards more sustainable investment in a manner that does not threaten the economic viability of the college, but supports the economic, social and environmental justice causes that lie at the core of what it means to be a Grinnellian.




Emmett Ruff ‘15


Rachel Eldridge ‘93


Natalie Duncombe ‘15


Scott Preston ‘84


John Mertes ‘15


Julianne F. Brand ‘80


David Lietson ‘16


Elizabeth Mackey ‘97


Sydney McClendon ‘16


Annie Klodd ‘13


Charis Russell ‘15


Hannah Lant ‘14


Emily Andrews ‘97


Sivan Philo ‘13


Hannah Burt ‘15


Roni Finkelstein ‘15


Teodora Klajic ‘14


Iris Young ‘13


Clark Fancher ‘15


Maisie Dolan ‘15


Will Gottlieb ‘15


Joyce Bartlett ‘15


Kris Robison ‘92


Michelle Hampton Emery ‘91


Janaki Sullivan ‘07


Miriam Clayton ‘15


Annie Casey ‘16


Devon Gamble ‘15


Fabiola Barral ‘15


Molly Prince ‘99


Elizabeth Claire Patterson ‘08


Alex Rosen ‘11


Anthony Wenndt ‘15


Julie Bir ‘09


Jen Sandler ‘98


James Marlow ‘16


Rosalie Curtin ‘15


Kate Stone ‘82


Evan Griffith ‘15


Keaton Cameron-Burr ‘15


Elyse Goldenberg ‘10


Kristen Dabney ‘15


Heather Flanagan Craig ‘92


Alanna Walen ‘92


Jordan Taitel ‘15


Sydney Ryan ‘14


Katie Fenster ‘15


Alyssa Manz ‘13


Richard Montalvo ‘15


Mark W. Schumann ‘88


Bridget Toomey ‘13


Prakriti Shrestha ‘16


Mikayla Findlay ‘16


David Leppik ‘94


Doug Dobrzynski ‘13


Oliver Lambert ‘96


Emily Clennon ‘14


Bryan Preston ‘00


Nara Takakawa ‘89


Lorena Ulloa ‘15


Leah Romanelli ‘06


Erin Sinogba ‘06


Cassandra Miller ‘16


Steve Spender -82


Toni Androski ‘16


Alexander Mundell ‘16


Alika Mathur ‘06


Colleen Moser ‘16


Josh Trost ‘97


Ebony Chuukwu ‘16


Keri Williamson Shingleton ‘92


Savannah Basinger Jahrling ‘91


Meghan McDermott ‘16


Yasmina Lembachar ‘15


Heather May ‘92


John Weather Holt ‘86


Rebecca Hughes Marcum ‘12


Chris Johnson Bidler ‘98


Gretchen Eichenberger Aiyangar ‘98


Rebecca Mwase ‘07


Dori McLennan ‘92


Amy Ketteran ‘97


Hannah Bauman ‘13


Allison Moore ‘13


Lindsey Challis ‘12


Shara Powers Laccone ‘96


Eleanor Griggs ‘15


Stephanie Hall ‘95


Jessica Roff ‘93


Jay Drier ‘13


Karry Koon Carr ‘84


Dani Long ‘00


Ben Stallings ‘98


Jennifer Griffin ‘93


Helen Colliton ’16


Laurie Johnson ‘90


Sharyn Obsatz ‘93


Susanne Bushman ‘16


Arthur Fretheim ‘14


Nazareth Soberanes ‘13


Chris Wilde ‘88


Tela Ebersole ‘16


Tracey Cook ‘14


Kate Pecsok Ewert ‘07


Emily Nehus ‘91


Daphne Orlando ‘92


Erin Labasan ‘11


Julie Ann Jones ‘86


Alyssa Naumann Popowitch ‘98


Lizz Westman ‘99


Alex Casillas ‘98


Lucy McGowan ‘15


Ross Noecker ‘11


Rebecca Crump ‘98


Leslie Ragan ‘85


Tovah Flygare ‘98


Paul Gagne ‘10


Yaman Ogut ‘98


Liberty Britton ‘14


John Baker ‘16


Emily Howe ‘16


Antoinette Cudney ‘16


Moses Gaither-Ganim ‘16


Marta Andelson ’14


Connor Schake ‘14


Elena Gartner ‘14


Kayleigh Kresse ‘15


Jolyne Piet ‘15


Avery Rowison de Ortiz ‘13


Athena Carlson ‘15


Addie Asbridge ‘13


Silvia Foster-Frau ‘15


Adam Dalton ‘16


Sarah Burnell ‘14


Ben Tyler ‘14


Works Cited:


  1. Greenough, G., McGeehin, M., Bernard, S. M., Trtanj, J., Riad, J., & Engelberg, D. (2001). The potential impacts of climate variability and change on health impacts of extreme weather events in the United States. Environmental health perspectives, 109(Suppl 2), 191.
  2. Rosenzweig, C., Iglesias, A., Yang, X. B., Epstein, P. R., & Chivian, E. (2001). Climate change and extreme weather events; implications for food production, plant diseases, and pests. Global change and human health, 2(2), 90-104.
  3. Parmesan, C., & Yohe, G. (2003). A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature, 421(6918), 37-42.
  4. Thuiller, W., Lavorel, S., Araújo, M. B., Sykes, M. T., & Prentice, I. C. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the united States of America, 102(23), 8245-8250.
  5. Mendelsohn, R., Dinar, A., & Williams, L. (2006). The distributional impact of climate change on rich and poor countries. Environment and Development Economics, 11(02), 159-178.
  6. IPCC (2014). Summary for policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L.White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1-32.
  7. Zindler, E., & Locklin, K. (2016). Mapping the Gap: The Road from Paris. Finance Paths for a 2-Degree Future.
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