By Mariel A. Klein and Tyler S. Olkowski, CRIMSON STAFF WRITERS
Divest Harvard aims to launch a fossil fuel-free fund to which alumni can donate as an alternative to the University’s endowment, according to the group’s announcement from earlier this month. The coalition of students, faculty, and alumni that calls for the University to divest its endowment from fossil fuels occupied Massachusetts Hall for 24 hours last week.
Robert F Worley
The Fossil Free Alumni Fund stipulates that Harvard will only receive the donations if the Harvard Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—publicly commits to divesting from fossil fuels by Dec. 31, 2025, as detailed in the press release. Otherwise, the fund will be donated to one or more nonpartisan national organizations that work to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“[The fund] will be one more form for alumni to get across the fact that climate change really matters,” said Bill E. McKibben ’82, an environmental activist and former Crimson president. McKibben called the fund “the next big forum” for the group’s movement and said that he expects many alumni to contribute.
Over the past year, 1,000 alumni have signed the organization’s petition to divest from fossil fuels, according to the press release. In addition, the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Vermont officially backed the divest movement in December, after 76 percent of its membership supported the measure in an annual survey.
According to the press release, the group will seek $5 million in commitments before accepting donations in order to secure lower management fees. Although the fund has received pledges, Divest Harvard has not released donor names or amounts, Divest Harvard student outreach coordinator Chloe S. Maxmin ’15 said. Divest Harvard does not have a timeline for securing the $5 million in commitments, she added.
“A large number of alumni don’t want to be supporting the fossil fuel industry,” Maxmin said. “The divestment fund is an opportunity for alumni to support Harvard, and [the donations] will go to Harvard when we divest from fossil fuels.”
Global Climate Change