Letter to the editor: Why not commit to divestment?

Larry Daloz

To the Editor:

With the latest UN climate report proclaiming a “red code for humanity” and in the midst of the “make-or-break” COP26 conference, it seems appropriate to ask why Williams remains unwilling to step up now with an explicit public commitment to divest from fossil fuels. Despite President Mandel’s assertion that “Williams is taking the same steps as other schools,” the failure to make a strong public commitment is puzzling.

For years now, students, faculty, and alums have been urging Williams to commit publicly to divest from fossil fuels. My own involvement in this effort dates back to 2013, when I joined a small group of alumni calling for divestment. We wrote, we urged, we created and signed petitions. One of us even turned in his honorary degree out of shame over the College’s intransigence. A small group of us met personally with then-President Adam Falk to press our case. It all came to naught. In the voice of the Trustees, he politely explained that divestment was “too complicated” for the College. It is refreshing to know that after years of huddling behind that stone wall, the Trustees have finally managed to take “the same steps” as the others. So why not come out and make a strong, principled, public commitment?

After all, dozens of major colleges and universities have done so, committing to divest a total of over $14 trillion

The first, Unity College, publicly committed in 2012. Did Williams? Of course not.

Since then, Amherst and Wesleyan have committed. Williams? Apparently not.

Just up the road, Middlebury and UVM have committed. Williams? Well, not exactly.

Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth have committed. Has Williams? No again.

Oxford and Cambridge have committed. Has Williams? Not yet.

Even Harvard, with the largest endowment of any university in the world, has now committed.

Why will our trustees not take responsibility for their slow awakening and reclaim the ethical leadership they have compromised? Why not make a strong, public commitment as these others have done? Why not commit, Eph?


Larry Daloz ’62

Larry Daloz ’62 lives in Hanover, N.H., and is education chair of Senior Stewards Acting for the Environment, an environmental activism group geared toward senior citizens.