Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Letter by members of Earthlust:
Dear Gil Kemp and the Board of Managers,
We write to you as individual members of Earthlust. Earthlust is Swarthmore College’s oldest environmental group. Our most recent work has been to strengthen Ecosphere (the coalition of environmental groups on campus) in order to foster a more supportive and productive environmental community. This semester, Earthlust’s members have been organizing events and actions to facilitate discussions among the College’s six other Ecosphere groups: Green Advisors, Good Food, Environmental Justice, SwatFrackAction, Swat Cycling, and Mountain Justice.
As concerned students and citizens, we in Earthlust know that action must be taken to address the catastrophic effects of climate change. We have learned, both inside and outside of the classroom, that this action must be both bold and far-reaching.
In your recent letter on divestment, you separate Mountain Justice’s work from the rest of the Ecosphere Coalition. While you claim to be proud of the work of our Coalition, which “addresses various aspects of climate change,” you do not recognize the power and importance of fossil fuel divestment. We stand by our fellow Ecosphere group Mountain Justice in reaffirming the need for our school to continue considering divestment as a strategy. Many of our group members have supported Mountain Justice, their actions, and their events. We see the mission of Mountain Justice and the mission of Earthlust as inextricably linked in the spirit of achieving a just environment and climate.
Earthlust is beginning a semester-long focus on the intersections of environmental action and social justice. Given the origins of the Mountain Justice divestment campaign and the campaign’s persistent and continued relationship with those living in frontline communities, the connections between Earthlust and Mountain Justice’s campaign are stronger now than ever before.
Earthlust has a long, proud history of political activism within the environmental sphere. In the current gridlocked state of the federal government, we acknowledge that the divestment campaign is a key strategy for garnering large-scale attention and political traction on the issues of environmental injustice and climate change. The attention that Swarthmore has already received as a hub of the national divestment campaigns, both in the media and on college campuses nationwide, is strong evidence that our school’s divestment would be one of the most powerful gestures we could make toward achieving real policy change on local, state, and national levels.
We insist that the Board of Managers work mutually and transparently with the students, faculty, staff, and administration to fully explore the role of divestment as a key component of our climate strategy.
We stand in solidarity with Mountain Justice, and hope that the Board of Managers will immediately revive an open discussion on fossil fuel divestment. Having already articulated your deep concern for the climate, we fully expect that you will do so.
Nicholas C. Borkowski
Jerry Yu Qin