Webinar Update

Over the past few months we've organized a webinar, and it's finally happening today. Here's a bit of the background:
We decided in January to organize a webinar to talk about personal divestment as a way of generating momentum for the initiative and demonstrating that the community is excited about taking divestment seriously. The slowest part was finding an 'expert' who was credible enough to offer something of value to the Williams community and willing to help. After watching some videos from the California Divestment Forum, I was impressed by the broad expertise of Shilpa Andalkar, and emailed her to talk, and we hit it off. With an expert on board we set about making a date and then starting on recruitment. The first few emails weren't resulting in very many RSVPs, so I started calling members of our group and asking for help making phone calls. The tried-and-true organizing method of talking to people directly has definitely helped here, and huge thanks to all of you that have put in time on the phone - even if it didn't feel like much of a impact at the time, we're up to 35 RSVPs and if even 1/2 of those people join the call we'll be close to our original attendance goal. 
Next steps for the initiative depend a little bit on how tomorrow night goes. We're considering putting a lot of effort into an event at the reunion this spring to engage more of the alumni community and meet directly with the college. And we'll see how much interest there is to grow the personal divestment work -- if there's potential here, we may look into organizing some more events along these lines. And in part, it's up to you! 
Divestment is growing nationally, but not so fast that a giant step forward at Williams wouldn't be a significant achievement.
100 Harvard professors just wrote a letter to the university calling for divesment:
Middlebury is still talking about divestment, and has placed $150k of its endowment in a socially responsible investment fun, a small step forward:


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  • Michael Nixon
    commented 2014-05-10 15:11:40 -0400
    One of the ways that Williams College supports faculty and staff is by providing retirement benefits. Yet, Williams does not allow these employees to divest from fossil fuel companies. It is one thing to divest in the endowment; it is altogether another thing to not allow individuals to divest their own savings. I ask this to be changed and I believe it can be.

    Initially, the question should be asked: why is Williams forcing the faculty and staff to invest in such companies as Exxon and Gazprom? (The Russian-based company, Gazprom, for example, is currently operating in a dubious way in Ukraine politics and is also listed as the energy company with the second largest fossil fuel reserves in the world. They are huge and they are planning for expansion. Surely, we should be able to choose not to support this type of global corporation?)

    TIAA-CREF is the investment management firm that Williams has chosen to use. Recently a TIAA representative has stated that Williams’ employees could actually choose to invest through firms that offer fossil fuel free investments, such as HIP or Green Century Capital Management and others. Williams just needs to agree to this option. TIAA-CREF is not the barrier. I am not sure if there are insurmountable obstacles to this strategy but it does seem it would be wise to ask Williams to implement this option for individuals to divest.