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Opinion

Letter to the Editor

By Hamilton Divests

March 6, 2014

At Tuesday’s faculty meeting, Hamilton Divests received unanimous support for the following resolution on fossil fuel divestment. Below the resolution is a letter to the Hamilton College Community outlining specific requests for divestment at the College.

Global climate change is a serious problem, and Hamilton should share in the responsibility of slowing it. While fulfilling their fiduciary obligations (see below for our definition in this context) to the College, we request that the Board of Trustees fulfill our social responsibility by judiciously divesting from fossil fuels.

We propose that over time, Hamilton divest from fossil fuel holdings within the College’s endowment. We support reasonable divestment in intervals, limited and selected either by type of fossil fuel, percentage of holdings or specific companies, in order to protect the integrity of the endowment while fulfilling the College’s social responsibility. We support divestment from fossil fuels that are more environmentally destructive (e.g. tar sands oil and dirty coal) and from companies that have the worst environmental impact.

We define fiduciary responsibility in the following way: not incurring unnecessary or unacceptable losses to the endowment, and not investing in portfolios or holdings with lower return rates than acceptable, not breaking any contracts; thus, not putting Hamilton’s future at unnecessary financial risk.

To Whom it May Concern,

We, the undersigned supporters, request that the Trustees of Hamilton College begin divesting the College’s endowment from select fossil fuel companies. The ultimate goal is to divest the College’s endowment from the 200 companies with the greatest potential carbon emissions as defined by Carbon Tracker Initiative data from 2010. With the aim of dividing our initiative into manageable intervals, we would like to begin by focusing our attention on the 20 coal companies with the greatest potential carbon emissions from their reserves. These 20 companies are: Anglo American, Arch Coal Incorporated, BHP Billiton, China Shenhua Energy Company, Coal India, Consol Energy Incorporated, Datang International Power Generation Company, Datong Coal Industry Company, Evraz Group, Exxaro Resources, Inner Mongolia Yitai Coal Company, Mechel, Mitsubishi Corporation, Peabody Energy Corporation, Public Power Corporation S.A., Rio Tinto, Severstal, Shanxi Coking Company, Glencore Xstrata and Yanzhou Coal Mining Company.

The Hamilton College Investment Office provided information regarding the College’s holdings in these 20 companies as of Dec. 31, 2013. The Investment Office found that the College’s endowment consisted of only two investments in these 20 companies: Consol Energy Incorporated and Mitsubishi Corporation. The College held 32,000 shares in Consol Energy, with a total value of $1,217,280. The investments in Mitsubishi Corporation were in a commingled fund, in which our shares were valued at $211,210. These two investments comprise less than a quarter of a percent of the College’s total endowment.

We request that Hamilton College immediately require the College’s money managers to begin divesting the College’s holdings in Consol Energy and Mitsubishi Corporation, and pledge to make no new investments in these 20 companies. We also request that the College pledge to make no future investments in the remaining 180 coal, oil and gas companies listed by the Carbon Tracker Initiative with the largest potential carbon emissions from their reserves. Beginning with the 30 companies listed above, we propose that the College publicly set out a plan to divest from the rest of the 180 companies in yearly increments of 20 progressing from greatest to least potential carbon emissions. We hope to devise and implement this divestment plan with the peaceful cooperation of Hamilton College, its money managers and the wider Hamilton College community. We believe that fossil fuel divestment provides Hamilton with an opportunity to be a leader among institutions taking steps to fight climate change, while reducing the extent to which the College’s endowment is at risk due to potentially stranded investments in carbon assets.

We are in support of Hamilton College beginning to divest from fossil fuels. If you would like to add your name in support of future efforts, please fill out this brief form.

A. Todd Franklin, faculty member
Alex Hollisterr ’17
Alex Reading ’16
Alexandra Crivelli ’14
Alice Henry ’14
Alicia Rost ’15
Allegra Armstrong ’17
Amanda Ng ’14
Ana Hernandez ’16
Anderson Tuggle ’14
Andraya Cole ’14
Andrew Fletcher ’17
Andrew Mandelbaum ’16
Andrew Morrison ’14
Anna Jastrzembski ’14
Anne Emanuels ’16
Anne Lacsamana, Faculty Member
Anthony Jackson ’15
Ariel Kaphan ’10
Barbara Perego ’17
Ben Perlmutter ’16
Benjamin Widiss, faculty member
Bethany O’Meara ’12
Blake Keogh ’05
Bonnie Urciuoli, faculty member
Brad Preve ’16
Branden Miles ’17
Brendan Cunningham ’15
Brian Evans ’15
Brooks Rozelle ’16
Carina Elfving ’16
Casey Collins ’15
Chelsea D’Aprile ’ 09
Chris Willemsen, employee
Chris Wilson’ 15
Christine Earl ’15
Christopher Sullivan ’ 09
Claire Forbes ’17
Clare Rock ’16
Connor Stevenson ’15
Daniel O’Kelly ’14
David Beauboeuf ’14
David Hyman ’12
David Munger ’16
Elise Eagan ’15
Eliza Burwell ’17
Elizabeth Lee, faculty member
Emi Birch ’14
Emily Anderson ’ 12
Emily Gunther ’ 06
Emily Moschowits ’17
Emily Rivera ’16
Ethan Kelly’ 14
Gabriel Mollica ’14
Grant Whitney ’ 17
Gregory Pierce, faculty member
Gretha Suarez ’15
Haley Riemer-Peltz ’12
Hannah Haskell ’15
Hannah Tessler ’14
Heather Krieger ’14
Helen Park ’17
Hillary Kolodner ’14
Ian Brown ’17
Irene Lin ’17
Isaac Handley-Miner ’14
Ishaq Pathan ’16
Jack Cartwright ’15
Jack Pierce ’17
Jack Siegel ’17
Jack Suria Linares ’15
Jacqueline Guyol ’17
James Bryan ’16
James Hunter ’17
James Larson ’17
Jean Shim ’17
Jennifer Borton, faculty member
Jennifer Roberts ’14
Jessica Pedersen ’15
John Crowther ’15
John DeGuardi ’16
Jonathan Shapiro ’17
Jose Vazquez ’15
Joseph Malloy, faculty member
Kateri Boucher ’17
Katherine Collett, employee
Katie Murphy ’16
Katrina Rabeler ’12
Kelsey Babcock ’17
Kerkira Stockton ’14
Kianee De Jesus ’17
Kim Wang ’14
Krista Hesdorfer ’14
Leo Kell ’17
Lillie Ogden ’16
Lily Frost ’17
Linda Lacelle, employee
Lydia Kiesling ’05
Mac Lynch ’06
Maggie Boyd ’17
Margaret Smith ’17
Mark Fitzsimmons ’09
Matthew Combs ’13
Maurice Isserman, faculty member
Megan Murphy ’15
Meghan O’Sullivan ’15
Melissa Mann ’13
Mengxian Ma ’17
Mercy Corredor ’15
Michael Kendall ’14
Michelle LeMausrier, faculty member
Molly April ’17
Morgan Osborn ’14
Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, faculty member
Nathan Livingston ’14
Nathaniel House ’12
Nell Hryshko ’16
Noelle Short ’05
Olivia Box ’17
Pamela Diaz, faculty member
Patrick Marris ’16
Peggy Bartels, employee
Peter Cannavo, faculty member
Peter Woodruff  ‘09
Phoebe Greenwald ’16
Rachel Eimas-Dietrich ’17
Rachel Green ’14
Rachel Landman ’94
Rebecca Gaines ’15
Rick Werner, faculty member
Risa Nagel ’16
Rob Martin, faculty member
Sally Bourdon ’15
Sam Wagner ’14
Sara Berthiaume ’15
Sarah Andrews ’14
Sarah Izzo ’15
Sarah Pfund ’14
Savannah Alvarado ’15
Scott Wilson ’15
Sean Fujimori ’14
Sean Henry-Smith ’15
Sharif Shrestha ’17
Sharon Rivera, faculty member
Sharon Yam ’16
Spencer Olsson ’14
Stephen Wu, faculty member
Sushmita Preetha ’11
Tanapat Treyanurak ’17
Tara McKee, faculty member
Teddy Clements ’14
Thomas Funk ’15
Thomas Topp ’16
Tyler Rehor ’17
Vicky Allen, faculty member
Victoria Blumenfeld ’16
Wenlu Weng ’16
William Sinton ’15
Yezid Gracia ’17

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