On homecoming weekend, the Stanford Class of 2017 returned for our five year reunion. Before we graduated, hundreds of us signed a pledge through Fossil Free Stanford to withhold donations until Stanford fully divests and dissociates from fossil fuels. Homecoming weekend reminded us how far our alma mater still needs to go.
While we were students, we engaged in one of the largest campus movements in Stanford’s history: an organized, passionate, lengthy mobilization to push Stanford to divest from fossil fuels. In 2015, more than one hundred students participated in a week-long sit-in outside Former President Hennessy’s office in advance of the UN Climate Conference in Paris. Over the years, Fossil Free Stanford has continued to call on the university to live into its values and embody its commitment to future generations. While Stanford did divest from coal in 2014, it still lags behind other institutions like Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton by continuing to hold other fossil fuel assets and associate with fossil fuel companies.
The science is clear: Fossil fuel use is causing an unprecedented increase in the atmosphere’s concentration of greenhouse gases. The resulting climate and environmental impacts are undeniable and painful, particularly for frontline communities around the world — communities that many Stanford students and alumni hail from.
Stanford’s continued investment in and association with fossil fuel companies also stand in stark contrast to the mission of the new Doerr School of Sustainability to “create a future where humans and nature thrive in concert and in perpetuity.” Stanford’s decision to continue accepting research funding from fossil fuel companies through 14 industry affiliate programs makes a mockery of the School’s mission and hampers the University’s ability to support real climate solutions. By continuing to accept fossil fuel funding, Stanford is aiding and abetting fossil fuel exploration and extraction and pushing research towards false climate “solutions” that benefit fossil fuel companies instead of communities. The continued investment in fossil fuels sacrifices Stanford’s credibility and integrity in the eyes of its students, faculty, alumni, policymakers and the public. As alumni, we hold our alma mater to a higher standard.
Homecoming was about reconnection, celebration — and accountability. We, as alumni of the Class of 2017 and of the Fossil Free movement, stand with current Fossil Free Stanford activists, the Coalition for a True School of Sustainability, scientists, and frontline communities facing the impacts of climate change the world over. We stand by our pledge to withhold donations until Stanford fully divests and dissociates from the fossil fuel industry.
Fellow students and alumni, we welcome you to join us in withholding donations until Stanford divests and dissociates from the fossil fuel industry. No matter your connection to Stanford, we encourage you to sign Fossil Free Stanford’s Fossil fuel divestment complaint and sign on to tell Stanford to reject fossil fuel funding for the Doerr School.
Josh De Leon, Maria Doerr, and Josh Lappen
(and other Members of the Class of 2017)
Josh De Leon (’17) is a community organizer, activist, and equity and inclusion consultant in Long Beach, California.
Maria Doerr (‘17) is an environmental and climate consultant for nonprofits, foundations, and governments who is based in the Bay Area.
Josh Lappen (’17 MS ’18) is a doctoral student at Oxford University, where he studies the political formation of energy systems.