Whitman students call for divestment from fossil fuel-centric companies


WALLA WALLA — Whitman College students are planning to protest the college’s continued investment of its endowment in fossil-fuel producing companies and let it know the campaign known as Divest Whitman isn’t over, despite the college’s refusal to explore divestment.

The protest, set for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Whitman’s Memorial Building, will be a “mock wedding” between Whitman and the fossil fuel industry to illustrate the college’s connection to them as a result of its investments.

Divest Whitman is organized by the Walla Walla private college’s chapter of the national Campus Climate Challenge and based on a nationwide divestment movement started by 350.org, which aims to push colleges nationwide to pull their investments in businesses that have large fossil-fuel reserves.

Companies like Exxon Mobile, for example, could produce enough oil and gas with its current holdings to add 41 billion tons of carbon to the Earth’s atmosphere, according to data from the Carbon Tracker Initiative (bit.ly/1mLPo58).

After protests led by Divest Whitman last year, the Associated Students of Whitman College adopted a resolution asking the college’s governing Board of Trustees to form a committee to examine the effects of divesting from fossil-fuel producing companies on its endowment.

But in February the board announced it would not move forward with divestment or establish a committee.

“The protest objective is to raise student support and let the trustees know the campaign isn’t over,” said rally organizer Dani Hupper, a freshman environmental studies-politics major. “The eventual goal of the campaign is to have the trustees establish a committee, and ultimately divest.”

According to reports from the Whitman Pioneer, more than 200 students, staff and community members marched to support divestment in April of last year, shortly after which the ASWC passed its resolution.

“Whitman claims to be a very environmentally focused community,” Hupper said, “and we think that not only should we talk the talk, but we should walk the walk.”

The board, in its announcement on Feb. 7 (bit.ly/1iVFdI2), cited the college’s relatively small amount of money invested in fossil-fuel oriented companies — about two percent of its endowment — and the complexity of how the endowment is managed as reasons not to proceed with divestment.

“Although the investment in companies (which have large fossil fuel reserves) is small,” the board said in a prepared statement, “a divestment of fossil fuels would adversely affect a significant portion of the college’s endowment portfolio causing a withdrawal of over 25 percent of the portfolio and risking both future potential returns to the College and the programs and students that these returns support.”

In its release, the board said it didn’t debate the merits of climate science, but “we find divestment difficult to reconcile with our reliance on these companies to heat our buildings, power our electronics, and fuel our transportation.”

Ben Wentz can be reached at benwentz@wwub.com or 526-8315.


barracuda 1 year, 7 months ago

Here is some questions.........

How did these students get to Walla Walla Washington?

How many students have rubber tires on their bicycles?

How many students have a car parked on campus?


stvsngltn 1 year, 7 months ago

Here are a couple more .....

If they get rid of fossil fuel use -- thereby cutting 85% of our national power grid -- will they be able to do without their iPads, iPhones, iPods, Facebook, TV and other electricity-powered social media and electronic-based luxuries and necessities as well (not to mention gas- or electric-powered vehicles)?

Do they really believe that wind generation and solar power will sustain the national grid? Ever?


Igor 1 year, 7 months ago

Steve: All you have to know is that the colder gets, the warmer it gets! Or vice versa. 97% of "peer reviewed," hare brained, Democrat scientists cannot be wrong!

If the whole thing weren't so tragic, I'd be laughing myself silly. You are a voice of sanity crying out in the wilderness. Keep up your good work. I, like you, was gratified to read the John Christy editorial in the March 23 edition of the U.B. Finally, a rational perspective.

Though I have not read as many books and articles on the subject as you, everything I have read convinces me that the global warming nonsense is just another leftist, Big Brother ploy to further regulate our lives and our freedoms.

The fact that some Whitman students have bought into the nonsense does not speak well for the caliber of the student at the college. I hope that they're nothing but a kook, fringe minority.


stvsngltn 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you for the comment, Igor. And of course as you know, that 97% figure that's been banded about by (IIRC) Science Matters and others has been discredited as phoney. Regarding my book collection on AGW skepticism, the total is now 94 books and I've compiled a booklist of sorts that lists each along with a few sentences including author background and description of content. I'm working on a best way to make it available to those who may be interested .... prints out at circa 19 pages.


GeneandCassie 1 year, 7 months ago

Tough dilemma..... being a 'user' or an 'investor' in fossil fuels....

Perhaps the answer lies in converting travel to like the lady on TV used to do it.... wiggle the nose and presto ==> instant relocation...... its gotta be possible.....

Or maybe a Star Trek Transporter Room in every home......


PearlY 1 year, 7 months ago

If you don't like the consequences of a company's product, the very first thing you should do is: STOP USING IT. If you won't do that, it's just silly to pretend you believe the company shouldn't exist.

Here's something these students can do that will have a REAL effect on Whitman's carbon footprint: Persuade the College to set aside one of its dorms for them, pledging to occupy it in such a manner as to avoid the use of any products of "fossil fuel companies" and forswear the possession of any such products in the dorm or in their daily lives.

No heat. No cooling. No furniture, fixtures, appliances, wiring, lighting, doors, window-panes, etc. that had to be shipped or transported from elsewhere - only products produced within walking distance of the College. No cotton bedding; locally produced wool only, please.

No non-local food products - no citrus, avocados, fresh fruits or veggies in winter, no sugar or other sweeteners (except locally sourced honey), no coffee, no chai, no macchiatos. No books, paper, pens, computers, smartphones. No non-locally produced pot, and none that required grow-lights for production.

Most clothing would not be optional, it would be banned, except for locally produced wool carded and woven on locally produced devices. Makes for pretty scratchy bedding, but we don't grow cotton around here.

No plastics of any sort. If they get sick, no IVs, gloves, catheters, surgical supplies, sutures, pacemakers. For that matter, no beds, and no doctors or nurses who trained at any medical school outside of walking distance of Walla Walla.

Of course, I was just as foolishly knee-jerk liberal myself at that age. As Winston Churchill said, "If you're not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart." In deference to the many older liberals who read these pages, I'll leave out the rest of the quotation.


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