Letter to the editor: Calvin ought to divest from fossil fuel funds


Calvin is currently in the midst of a challenging financial situation. President Le Roy desires a transparent financial strategy that will be up for board approval in May 2014. He also desires that the plan be sustainable, affordable and strategically focused.

I would assume this plan includes a campus audit of buildings and practices. I would also assume, as a Christian college with the biblical mandate to seek justice and protect the vulnerable, Calvin would examine where its financial investments lie to ensure the school is not profiting from environmentally and socially destructive companies.

Therefore, I call on Calvin College to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. I believe such action on behalf of Calvin will not only be a sound decision for its financial portfolio, but also for the well-being of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos and with an education not funded by environmentally destructive companies.

By January 2013 there were 210 public and private universities pressuring their schools’ administration to divest. I commend the current Calvin students who created a petition to divest at gofossilfree.org and I urge all students to sign the petition and begin organizing.

I also call on Le Roy to sign the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment on behalf of Calvin.

I know climate change denial exists, but this is not about climate change rhetoric. This is about physics. 2012 was the warmest year on record and the second most extreme year for weather related events. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet.

As an alumna my voice is important, but as students walking the halls every day, your presence and actions can do more than my letters. I challenge you to stand up for what is right even though it may be hard or unpopular at first. It is my desire that Calvin truly be a place of “minds of the making” (not a place of minds made up or minds disinterested) and a vibrant, engaged institution educating for shalom.

Ann Wiersma Van Zee, ’01

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