Last week, the President announced the College’s decision to not divest from fossil fuel industries.
I’m sympathetic towards divestment- fossil fuel companies are dirty, literally and figuratively- and I’m opposed to the idea that our institution benefits from their profits.
So, like many others, I was unhappy with the decision- but it was one I could understand. Our dirty investments are packaged in mutual funds, and those mutual funds contribute to what the College’s budget is.
Divestment in this sense intends to reduce our dependence on a contributor of climate change and, thus, improves our impact on the planet.
In the wake of the divestment announcement, I read a response to the decision on the Divet/Reinvest (Di/Re) Facebook page. There was a very specific sentence that caught my eye: “We will not congratulate an institution that thinks surface-level solutions like LED light bulbs or student audits of LEED certifications can equate to the change we need in order to support the community.”
At first glance, my thoughts were “but, you might not be happy with the decision- I’m certainly not- but it’s not like these things do nothing.” But then I realized something else: they’re talking about me.
The college was making gradual progress towards reducing our energy dependence, but things have sped up dramatically this year.
Our energy savings have doubled since November, and and are projected to quintuple by the end of summer. I can’t evaluate the entire K community’s opinion of this, but these advances have taken a tremendous amount of effort- an effort that I have been a part of. And these efforts have been dismissed.
I certainly don’t want to throw shame at those who are working toward Di/Re and I want to make this very clear: the movement takes a lot of effort and I know the statement wasn’t personal, but this is a single instance of a much greater problem.
There is a tremendous amount of awareness about our structural problems on campus. There are people- students, staff, faculty, alumni- who are working hard to create the change that this campus and the world beyond it desperately needs, but neither our problems nor our solutions are anywhere near as simple as we may believe they ought to be.
Some who want change but don’t immediately receive exactly what they want immediately go on the attack under the assumption that a lack of progress was only caused by malicious intent. Dismissals, callouts, patronization: these are personal attacks that happen at K all the time.
This is not only unfair, but wrong.
Attacks prompted by a lack of progress can damage the very people who are working to change either themselves or the system, and the entire campus suffers for it. It’s incredibly painful to watch an organization damage other people on their way to their goal- especially when it’s a group I fundamentally agree with.
We simply can’t keep doing this to each other, or it will tear us apart.