The vote in support of the referendum to divest from direct holdings in fossil fuel companies clearly shows the importance that Vassar students attach to taking action against global warming. As I have said previously, climate change is a critical issue and one that is best addressed through changes in policy and incentives at various governmental levels (“Shareholder role crucial in climate reform, Miscellany News, February 17, 2016).
However, the result of the referendum has no direct bearing on the College’s policy on investments, as it is the Board of Trustees that has sole authority on endowment investment matters. As outlined in the Governance, the Trustee Investor Responsibility Committee (TIRC) is charged by the Board of Trustees to hold discussions on divestment if that is the recommendation that they receive from the Campus Investor Responsibility Committee (CIRC), which on three separate occasions, including as recently as last fall, has declined to make such a recommendation.
The broad agreement on the importance of global warming that is illustrated by the outcome of the referendum should present an excellent opportunity to galvanize our efforts to make real progress by reducing Vassar’s greenhouse gas emissions and thus work together toward carbon neutrality. This work, and the work of effecting governmental changes that encourage the move to cleaner sources of energy, are the most important tasks before us.
—Catharine Bond Hill, President of the College