Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Divest Whitman Hopes Personal Letters Lead to Public Response

news.vazquez.divestmentletters.2
Illustration by Eddy Vazquez.

When dialogue does not produce a desired result, the written word can be a successful alternative. Such is the hope of the members of Divest Whitman, who have been delivering letters written by alumni and current students to President George Bridges  that argue for public declaration in support of divestment from the Whitman administration.

Since ASWC passed a resolution last spring calling for a committee to look into the possibility of divestment, no official response from the college has been given. In response, Divest Whitman turned to the letters as a new, untried method of communication between students, alumni and the administration.

“The reason we’re doing the letters is because we got no response from that ASWC resolution,” said junior Sierra Dickey. “We really value responses. We value discourse, and that’s what we’re trying to push with the letters.”

In light of this goal, students involved with divestment have been delivering five to six letters a day to Bridges over the past week, just in time for the arrival of the Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Although they hope either the Trustees or Bridges will craft a public response supporting divestment outright, members of Divest Whitman are looking for any positive movement toward the possibility of divestment. One such positive step would be to find support for a committee, as the spring ASWC resolution called for, to act as conduit for finding the course of action the college should take.

“Right now we’re just looking to create a committee to look into divestment,” said junior Audrey Vaughan. “It’s one of those things we think will stand up to a committee, and we just want the opportunity to look into it as a serious option.”

This committee would be faced with the task of balancing the idealized goal of divesting from unwanted industries with the practical goal of ensuring the endowment is financially strong. Divest Whitman members are hoping to instigate public discourse about this issue via the letter writing campaign.

Campus Sustainability Coordinator Tristan Sewell believes these conflicting goals will have to be addressed in order to break the public stalemate between the administration and the Divest Whitman campaign.

“What this is really about is doing the right thing versus what’s business smart or what financially makes sense, and that’s where they’re running into odds,” he said.

The stalemate may be decided soon. Between the letters delivered to President Bridges and the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting in which divestment is likely to be discussed, members of Divest Whitman hope a public statement will come very quickly.

“I would argue that it behooves us to get on this early because climate change is proceeding apace and we have an opportunity to lead for once,” said junior Collin Smith.

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