Bowdoin Climate Action formally proposed aligning the College’s investments with its values to the Board of Trustees on October 17th, after presenting 1,000 student signatures for fossil fuel divestment to President Mills last April. Seventy faculty members joined us in this call for climate justice. For 140 days, between proposing divestment for the common good and our deadline for a divestment liaison, the Board remained silent.
During this period of inaction, the UMaine system, the New School, and the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund have all announced various forms of divestment. This growing global movement now has the support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Momentum for divestment is growing, and as the president of the World Bank has stated, it pays to be a leader.
Yet the trustees have ignored our outreach. President Mills has shut down dialogue with the faculty. While the campus awaited action, the president and the Board of Trustees shirked responsibility. In doing so they have demonstrated a refusal to take climate justice–and the calls of our community–seriously.
In the Meeting in the Union on February 13th–a landmark gathering of more than two-hundred fifty students to address injustice on campus and beyond–we asked for a trustee to act as divestment liaison to Bowdoin Climate Action in order to continue dialogue and develop a productive relationship through the coming year. We announced our intent to escalate this spring if the administration did not meet our request.
In an act of deafness toward the students and faculty, President Mills has now appointed himself liaison. As he will leave campus in the coming months, this does not fulfill our request to engage the Board in productive discussion and continue dialogue into next semester. In consequence, we reaffirm our intent to escalate this spring. The Board has not acted for climate justice, so we will.