To the Editor:
The Phillips Academy Board of Trustees has thoroughly considered the proposal by the campus group Divest Andover that we divest of our stock in companies that produce fossil fuels. The full Board discussed the proposal at length during its winter and spring meetings.
A four member subcommittee of the Board, appointed last winter, monitored campus discussion on the issue, including articles and letters in _The Phillipian_ and debates among students, highlighted by an open meeting in April. We are impressed by the quality and intensity with which the Academy is engaged in dialogue on the salient national and international issue of climate change. We also feel that consideration of concrete actions that Phillips Academy, as a community, should take to alleviate the dangers posed by climate change is appropriate. We thank the leaders of Divest Andover for bringing this issue to the fore, and to the many students and faculty who have participated in discussions about it.
According to the Board’s well-defined policy, divestment of stock from the Academy’s portfolio should be taken only in cases where there is broad agreement in the Andover community that the targeted entities are unambiguously committing acts of grave social injury. Unsurprisingly, the Andover campus, like much of the rest of the country, is divided over many aspects of climate change and whether divestment is the most responsible step to take. Based on the lack of campus consensus, the Board is not prepared at this stage to divest. The decision was reached by the full Board after deliberations earlier this month.
However, the Board feels that ongoing campus discussion of these topics is important. As global citizens, Phillips Academy’s students, faculty, administrators, alumni and trustees should act responsibly in the face of social and environmental dangers. We encourage informed debate about fossil fuels issue and what, if anything, we can or should do about it. In our view, any viable discussion of this issue must be centered by accurate scientific data. The Board has also pledged to review the environmental sustainability of our current and planned buildings facilities.
We consider these to be key issues. Going forward, we welcome feedback from you and dialogue about them.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees
The ad hoc subcommittee on Fossil Fuels Divestiture: Amy Falls (chair), Shelly Guyer, Rejii Hayes and Gary Lee