Why Isn’t Colorado College Divesting? A Look into CC’s Inaction

For the past couple years, the term divestment has been a buzzword on college campuses across the U.S.

But Colorado College does not seem to want to participate in the recent divestment trend. On the contrary, CC has actually made no plans to divest and the board does not seem to have any public investment principles.

The Student Divestment Committee has been pushing for change since they formed in 2013, but CC administration does not seem to be responding to the requests of the committee. Last spring this group set a deadline for this past May 1 that would get CC to commit to divesting its investment portfolio from fossil fuels, but that deadline passed with no change in CC’s divestment plans.

By the May 1 deadline CC was supposed to have committed to freezing new investments in fossil fuel companies and make plans to fully divest within five years, but that deadline has come and gone with no action on behalf of CC.

Senior Ben Criswell is one of the driving forces behind the Student Divestment Committee.

“It’s really too bad to see the board take such a lackadaisical stance on this,” said Criswell. “Coming here as a student, we see the college branding CC as innovative, cutting-edge, environmentally friendly, but our investment principles aren’t reflecting that. It’s unfortunate.”

CC’s divestment principles do not accurately fit the “brand” that is portrayed to students and families, and this has pushed many students to work to change that. But, it seems that the students working to change CC’s divestment plans are repeatedly met with opposition from the board.

Criswell said, “The board believes it is their fiduciary responsibility to grow the endowment as much as possible and they won’t take any action that they feel might jeopardize that duty.”

CC’s current endowment is now valued at around $700 million, but any action to divest that money from fossil fuels is slow moving, at best.

CC alum have also been getting involved with the issue, and last year they worked with students to organize a group called the Colorado College Responsible Endowments Fund. This group was the one that set the May 1 deadline, saying that the money raised through the fund would go to CC’s endowment, if CC agreed to certain requests.

Students have played a very important role in the push for divestment, and change will most likely not happen without student involvement and action.

“It’s up to future students. If no one pushes it, the CCREF will cease to exist after May 1, 2017,” said Criswell.

Change may be slow to come to CC, but the board has not yet announced a decisive no to divestment, so there is possibility for the future.

A Timeline of Divestment

1980: Student group Colorado College Community Against Apartheid protested college investment in companies involved in South Africa.

1987: Protesters demonstrate during CC graduation and create a temporary shanty town on Worner Quad.

2013: Student Divestment Committee organized and began demonstrations such as placing spilled oil barrels around campus.

May 2013: CC officials said they would not divest.

2015: Alumni group gets involved and the Colorado College Responsible Endowments Fund is launched.

May 1 2016: First deadline for CC to commit to halting new investment in fossil fuel companies and fully divest within the next 5 years.

May 1 2017: Second deadline to freeze new investment, fully divest in 5 years, and create a Reinvestment Committee.

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