Letter to the Editor: Supporting divestment

To the Editor:

The series of writings to the Record regarding divestment, most recently including Christine Pash’s Nov. 5 op-ed, “In defense of divestment,” represents a genuine and growing movement at Williams to stand for our stated and unstated principles as a top liberal arts college and one of the country’s leading institutions.

The movement to divest represents a refusal to divorce ethics from investments and a rejection of hypocrisy in word and deed. Williams cannot fully celebrate our new environmental center and our pursuit of the Living Building Challenge at the Kellogg House while we continue to invest in the 200 worst fossil fuel companies in the world, as ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves. Williams must resist the all too pervasive tendency to ignore economic externalities and to neglect environmental foresight. Ironically, to overlook future environmental repercussions is a quickly fading luxury as we increasingly experience the negative effects of fossil fuel emissions today.

The College’s endowment will be unaffected by divestment, as will the companies we abandon, yet the highly symbolic act will have significant political impact. Recognizing this, many other institutions of higher learning and religion, national foundations and cities like Seattle, Wash., and Amherst, Mass., have already divested. As a proven tool for effective political pressure, divestment will soon be widely embraced throughout the country and world, especially as we all increasingly realize the true costs of environmental exploitation and degradation in the present. Williams ought to position itself at the forefront of this movement. I agree wholeheartedly with Pash and Divest Williams, and I look forward to a decision by the trustees in the near future that makes me proud to be an Eph.

Katherine Preston ’16