Jingyi Cui 12:30 am, Feb 05, 2018
Yale’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall 102 was filled to the brim Saturday afternoon, as students took the stage one-by-one to criticize Yale’s investments in areas ranging from the fossil fuel industry to the debts of distressed government.
The teach-in, titled “Inside Yale’s $27,000,000,000,” featured representatives from a coalition of student organizations, including Fossil Free Yale, Yale Students for Prison Divestment, Yale Young Democratic Socialists and the Association of Native Americans at Yale. With vibrant photos and precise figures, students delved into public records of Yale’s endowment investments and argued that many of the University’s holdings are harming the environment, the criminal justice system and the Puerto Rican economy, among other areas. In addition to airing concerns about endowment investment, students urged Yale to declare the campus a sanctuary for undocumented people and to pay more taxes to support the Elm City.
“How might we as students reimagine Yale’s endowment?” Cassie Darrow ’19 said in her opening address. “Knowing that a slave trader, Philip Livingstone, endowed the first professorship at Yale and that profits made from slave labor laid the basis for endowment, how might we reimagine Yale’s endowment as a tool for reparations, for restorative justice?”
The teach-in came on the heels of a January protest, organized by local activists outside of University President Peter Salovey’s house on Hillhouse Avenue, condemning Yale’s investment in the Baupost Group, a hedge fund that holds nearly $1 billion of Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt. In December, the graduate student union Local 33 and Fossil Free Yale teamed up to deliver a petition urging the University to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The University has continued to stand by its investments in both areas.
Fossil Free Yale member Rachel Calnek-Sugin ’19 said that after Yale chose in 2015 to directly invest millions in a fracking company, Antero Resources, dozens of other universities followed suit, in part due to the reputation of Yale’s Chief Investment Officer David Swensen.
Since 2011, Antero Resources has committed 14 environmental violations and faced penalties totaling over $1 million, according to records from the Environment Protection Agency. In July 2013, Reuters reported that five people were injured in an explosion that month at a natural gas well site operated by Antero Resources in West Virginia.
- FFY submits new demands to Swensen
- Despite protest, Yale-linked pipeline project progresses
- Firing Line Debate: Do Fossil Fuel Divestments Work for Universities?
- Fossil Free Yale (@FossilFreeYale) / Twitter
- Yale Endowment Justice Coalition