Story by Burton Hodges
Nearly 70 people rallied in front of the Beam Administration building at Brevard College on Friday afternoon, Feb. 13, in support of a campuswide effort to divest the schools’ funding in fossil fuels.
Sponsored by the Brevard College Greens club, the rally was part of a student-led initiative to raise awareness on campus and campaign for the Board of Trustees to authorize the process of divestment, which would make Brevard College the first school in the Southeast to do so.
“I’m calling on the students of Brevard College to use their powerful and inspirational voices to ignite change on this campus to start a large-scale movement for divestment in North Carolina,” said senior Emily Crowley, an Environmental Studies major and organizer of the event.
The rally was in conjunction with Global Divestment Day, an event created by the grassroots movement 350.org, which aims to drop global carbon dioxide levels from the current 400 parts per million to 350.
The idea of divesting Brevard College was brought to the school last winter by Jim Reynolds, associate professor of geology and an active member of the Sierra Club chapter in Western North Carolina. With Reynolds’ guidance, Crowley and fellow co-president of the Greens club, Rory Northam, began the process of initiating the divestment movement on campus.
Petitions for support began circulating around Brevard College, receiving over 400 signatures from the student body and nearly half of the faculty and staff.
Following a sit-in last November at Brevard College’s J.A. Jones Library, Crowley and Northam were invited to present the petitions and research to the schools’ investor committee, which decided to take the proposal in front of the Board of Trustees on Feb. 19.
“I’m very confident that the Board will go along with it,” said Jerry Stone, head of the investor committee.” They will give us the authority under the college’s investment policy to move forward and look for new opportunities to invest in that aren’t involved in fossil fuels.”
Nearly 3 percent of Brevard College’s endowment, or $606,000, is invested in various areas of the fossil-fuel industry. The trick, Stone said, is finding new opportunities that will replace these investments. With the goal being complete divestment by 2018, Stone said he’s convinced the school can chose better investments and even “start a green fund” within the next three years.
“Look at our mission statement,” said David Joyce, President of Brevard College. “We are committed to an experiential, liberal arts education that encourages personal growth and inspires artistic, intellectual and social action. Be careful what you wish for — this is education.”
Burton Hodges is a senior at Brevard College majoring in political science and communications. He is the campus news editor at The Clarion, the college’s campus newspaper. He is also president of the Student Government Association.