Divesting DePauw of fossil fuels: the 2040 goal


The campus-wide anti-fossil fuel movement "Divest DePauw" is for the most part, unseen, but its organizers are diligently working to maintain and expand its momentum.
Divest DePauw had a successful semester of communicating with President Brian Casey, Christopher Wells, vice president of communications and strategic initiatives and Brad Kelsheimer, vice president for finance and administration. The eight person team saw the need to shift their focus for the long haul with new goals of becoming visible on campus and being recognized and respected by the faculty, staff, administration and board of trustees.
As they continue to work with immense dedication, they've found it difficult to communicate their goal to the average student, especially first-years who have never heard of things like the "endowment" before. Typical questions that arise when discussing the movement include, "Does this mean we can't drive cars on campus or have lights at night?" Not at all. And although the individual members of the movement support renewable energy, waste-free lifestyles and low carbon initiatives, we also understand that at this point, our campus is highly reliant on fossil fuels for electricity and other necessary institutional provisions. Instead, Divest DePauw aims at a different way to reduce our involvement with dirty energy.
We want DePauw to be carbon neutral, as Casey promised to do by 2040, on campus and on paper. This movement goes beyond energy reduction and looks to the future of energy freedom.
DePauw holds over $500 million in the "endowment," used each year to provide scholarships and funding to projects like improving career services or financing renovations.
To maintain the millions of dollars, about 8 percent of the funds are cycled out each year under the control of financial investors, who then make returns on the money for our benefit. There are little to no limitations on what these investment firms can finance. This includes giving money directly to extraction and refining companies that make a profit off of the exploitation of fossil fuels.
Divest DePauw has a problem with that; using coal/oil/natural gas in itself is bad enough, but supplementing the CEO's of those companies with even more money in hopes of getting a return is not ethically acceptable. Unquestionable science about the health effects of mining and extraction of natural gas, coal, and oil show its disastrous power, not only to humans but to animals and the atmosphere too. As much as there is a need for DePauw's sustainability department and organizations like Environmental Club, there is also a need to tackle the board of director's power in determining how the endowment is used. Divest DePauw is here to demand that it will not be used to invest in filthy fossil fuel companies.
Divest DePauw is asking that every aspect of our endowment is screened before it is invested to ensure that it is not involved with any of the top 200 companies with the largest carbon reserves, such as British Petroleum (BP) and Peabody Coal.
Vaughn and the other Divest DePauw members are determined to see their movement succeed.

- Repko is a senior from Canton, OH majoring in Conflict Studies and Women's Studies.