April 9, 2012

Swarthmore Mountain Justice Invites President Chopp to Support Fossil Fuel Divestment

April 6, 2012 -- Today Swarthmore's Mountain Justice sent a student delegation with an elaborate formal invitation to President Chopp to join them in their fight to divest Swarthmore College's money from the "Sordid Sixteen," the 16 dirtiest domestic fossil fuel companies. About 20 people, including members of Mountain Justice and the wider campus community, visited her office at 12:30PM to deliver the invitation, which requests the president's support at an upcoming Board of Managers meeting at which Mountain Justice will be presenting their divestment proposal.

In addition, Mountain Justice presented a hefty stack of signed petitions to show the widespread support for divestment from the student community. In the course of two weeks, Mountain Justice collected 667 signatures from students on a petition asking Chopp to take a leadership role in guiding the College towards divestment. This is close to half of the student population currently on campus. Ben Bernard-Herman, a member of the delegation, gave voice to the feelings of those gathered there: "We all signed the petition, and we're here to make sure that President Chopp knows that she needs to listen to the desires of the student body." After this statement, students walked up the stairs to Chopp's office. There, Ali Roseberry Polier and Ryane Disken-Cahill presented the large invitation and the petitions to Laura Warren, Chopp's personal secretary.

This action is the latest step in an ongoing campaign begun spring of 2011. In that time, Mountain Justice has met with the Investment Office, the Committee on Investor Responsibility, and President Chopp herself. They researched the environmental and human rights violations of fossil fuel companies, and decided on a list of companies that Swarthmore must divest from first, called the 'Sordid Sixteen.' The list includes Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Exelon, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Hess, Occidental Petroleum, Patriot Coal, Peabody Energy, and Range Resources.

Recently, on March 26, members of Mountain Justice met with President Chopp to present their research, to argue the moral arguments for divestment from the Sordid Sixteen, and to ask for her support. Having received a noncommittal answer, the group decided to present her with a formal invitation to publicly voice her support. The invitation requests that she RSVP by April 23—the campus eagerly await her response. As Sachie Hopkins-Hayakawa said, "Now Rebecca Chopp has a choice between supporting us and divestment, or aligning with dirty energy companies and the sordid sixteen."