As the school year begins, the excitement of the first fully in-person, business-as-usual year since pre-pandemic times can be invigorating. Even from afar, alumni hear of the beautiful new residential colleges opening this fall and Princeton’s pledge to fully cover financial aid for all students with families making up to $100,000. Amidst all of the noise of Princeton’s sustainability on campus, it’s easy to forget that Princeton’s movement on sustainability — and specifically, its charge to divest its nearly $38 billion endowment from fossil fuels — has been minimal. Despite support for divestment from over 3,000 students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the University has failed to act. All of Princeton’s advertising of net-zero goals and progress simply distract from the $1.7 billion Princeton still has invested in fossil fuels.
I was warned when I started organizing with Divest Princeton during my sophomore year of college that I would likely never see divestment while still a Princeton student. That warning was correct. This May, I graduated, as the University spent another year stalling on actual divestment with the invention of a faculty panel on dissociation. As emeritus co-coordinator and one of the most active student organizers of the campaign on campus, I knew that administrators were likely hoping that I would graduate and the campaign would crumble. They were wrong.
As the school year begins, the student organizers who have taken up the torch have already begun to organize protests, tabling sessions, and strategy meetings. We have a growing coalition of over 160 faculty and staff in favor of divestment. Alumni like myself are continuing to organize virtually. If anything, the movement only continues to grow.
I urge you not to forget that even amidst all of the good, Princeton continues to fail its students and alumni. Divestment still has yet to happen. We are no closer than we were a year ago, but this is no reason for dismay.
Let Princeton’s failure to move serve as a call to action. If you have not yet signed the pledge not to donate until Princeton divests, sign it. If you have signed it, share it with your peers or join us for our strategy meetings. But whatever happens, we must never stop organizing. We will not rest until Princeton divests.