The Board of Trustees has decided that divestment of holdings in fossil fuel companies is “not a good option for Wellesley College,” President H. Kim Bottomly announced in March. “The Board, and I, do not support the idea of using the College’s endowment as a lever for social change and determined that such an action would conflict with the purpose of the endowment,” she wrote.
Last fall, as an effort to limit global climate change, the student group Fossil Free Wellesley (FFW) called for the trustees to freeze any new investments in fossil-fuel companies and to free the College within five years of all such investments, direct or indirect.
A working group of trustees, faculty, and administrators was formed to consider the FFW request and its potential effect on endowment earnings and the College budget. Its conclusion, in the words of President Bottomly: “The cost to Wellesley would be high and the economic impact on fossil fuels companies inconsequential.”
She stressed that the conversations between the trustees and the students “have never questioned the causes or effects of climate change, nor has there been any doubt about the social and moral imperative to address this crisis.”
She pointed to four other specific actions the College will take instead of divesting:
- Work to ensure that Wellesley remains “a supportive environment for inspired and informed activism.”
- Exploit the opportunities afforded by the Campus Renewal program to curb the College’s energy use.
- Establish a special funding mechanism to finance reductions for campus energy usage.
- Establish a working group to formalize the College’s existing standards for socially responsible investing going forward.