Founded in fall of 2012, Columbia Divest for Climate Justice is a coalition of students, faculty, and Columbia community members united to divest our $9.2 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry.
We are part of the international movement for climate justice, and we started back in fall 2012 when a few of our founding members attended a talk by Bill McKibben, a co-founder of 350.org, on his “Do the Math” tour.
Read more about divestment and why it matters.
We welcome further involvement on many levels from anyone affiliated with the Columbia University community – in the way that will make the most of your skills & passions! Get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some highlights of support on campus:
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In October 2013, 73.7% of Columbia College voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment in the first-ever ballot referendum at Columbia College. The Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) then adopted the referendum as its official position and pledged to advocate for divestment.
- In September 2014, Columbia Divest mobilized more than 500 students from Barnard, the Law School, Mailman, SIPA, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, among other schools, to attend the People’s Climate March. The March was the largest climate demonstration in global history, with more than 300,000 people gathered here in NYC. Columbia was the largest university contingent.
- Our petition calling on the Board to divest has more than 2,000 signatures from students and alumni, representing almost all of the undergraduate and graduate schools across campus.
- Professors Todd Gitlin and Paige West co-authored an open faculty letter to the Board, which currently has over three hundred signatures from faculty across all departments, including many scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The Guardian covered the letter in the spring of 2015.
- We have engaged with all possible channels of administration, from working for years through the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing process to meeting, of course, with members of the Board of Trustees. President Bollinger has been supportive of our campaign, stating that divestment would have no significant impact on the endowment.
- There is also strong alumni support. In addition to many petition signatures from alumni, we work with a number of individuals who have remained active in the Columbia community by attending our weekly meetings and organizing their classmates. Alumni have called President Bollinger and Professor Gordon of the ACSRI to voice their support for divestment.
- In Spring 2015, Divest Barnard launched its own campaign across the street. They have already met with President Spar, and they have organized students on their campus. The neighboring Union Theological Seminary voted to divest their $108.4M endowment from all fossil fuels in 2014, and the Jewish Theological Seminary’s List College just launched a divestment campaign including a unanimously endorsed letter from their student governing board to their chancellor.
- Graduate students have been organizing their peers at the Law School, School of International and Public Affairs, Mailman School of Public Health, and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. We are building exciting cross-university coalitions and doing the work of educating and engaging with the university about climate justice, in general, rather than only fossil fuel divestment.
- Our campaign and members have been featured in or written for media outlets from The Nation, Yahoo! Finance, MSNBC, Columbia Spectator, Bwog, The Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and more. We are connected to the Divestment National Network, and a coalition of New York City schools campaigning for fossil fuel divestment including Divest NYU.
We are committed to ensuring that Columbia stands up for students and a future free of climate chaos by divesting from fossil fuels, and our campaign has seen unprecedented levels of interest and recruitment – with more than 100 new members coming to our first meeting this fall. We are confident that our campaign will continue until Columbia divests fully from the fossil fuel industry. Join us!