March 4, 2013

Students Deliver Letters to Skorton, Demand That Cornell Divest

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Students gathered outside Day Hall  Monday to present handwritten letters to President David Skorton calling for the University to divest its endowment funds from the fossil fuel industry.

Jake Leiby ’16, co-president of Kyoto NOW!, said the letter-writing campaign was planned in accordance with “March Forth: National Divestment Day of Action,” a national event that occurred Monday and called for collective action on divestment.

The small gathering at noon outside Day Hall was arranged so that people could present their letters to Skorton together, according to Leiby. He said he hoped more students would show up with letters throughout the day.

The letter-writing event Monday was supposed to run last week but was postponed due to weather, according to Anna-Lisa Castle ’13, a sponsor of the divestment resolution and member of Kyoto NOW!.

“While only a few people were able to make the rain date [Monday], we have planned to have letters from around campus coming in to Skorton,” Castle said.

The organizers of the divestment letter-writing campaign have reached out to several individual leaders and campus organizations, such as Cornell Organization for Labor Action and the Women of Color Coalition, who have committed to write to President Skorton this week, Castle said.

“While we’re still waiting to hear back from some individuals and organizations, we know that there will be a large cross-section of the university and several unique perspectives represented as people from across campus,” Castle said in an email.

Castle also said that the organizers will be tabling at different locations on campus this week and will provide materials so people can send cards to Skorton saying reasons why Cornell needs to divest.

These individual messages will be delivered to Skorton at the end of the letter-writing effort, after supporters of divestment have had a chance to “say their piece,” according to Castle.

In an interview with The Sun on Feb. 15, Skorton called on “students to make their case, [and] put out their points of view” on the issue of divestment. The students who had written letters did just that, Leiby said.

The students gathered outside Day Hall said they believed strongly in divestment and wanted to make a “personal connection” through their letters.

“My letter was written so I could be more personal with President Skorton and the ask of the resolution,” Leiby said.

The Student Assembly passed Resolution 32: Toward a Responsible Endowment, on Feb. 7, resolving that Cornell divest from the fossil fuel industry by the end of 2020 and reinvest 30 percent of these funds in sustainable companies by 2030.

The letter-writing initiative in the divestment campaign comes after the S.A. passed Resolution 32.

The students who delivered their letters on Monday were escorted up to Skorton’s office in Day Hall by a member of the Cornell University Police Department and an event manager who works for Cornell Communications.

Original Author: Danielle Sochaczevski