In Response to: The Giving Plea

Mark Bernstein’s piece in the June PAW, “The Giving Plea,” reports a record $81.8 million in giving last year (2021-22) despite the percentage of gift-givers, which has often surpassed 60%, falling below 50% for the third year in a row. Bernstein offers four reasons for this, one being politics. He mentions Divest Princeton. Its open letter asks signers to stop giving until Princeton divests completely from fossil fuels.

Of roughly 97,000 alumni, less than 800 graduating before 2017 have signed the letter. To no surprise, however, graduates since then are signing at a rate many times greater than their elders. They are more actively concerned about climate change because they are young and the consequences are their future. To them, climate change is real, is directly related to fossil fuels, and, as we can all see, has infuriated Mother Nature. Even if you don’t believe the fossil fuel part, be sure that Princeton University as an academic institution does — why else would it be investing billions of dollars in a net-zero carbon campus and so many hours of research into climate change?

If new graduates continue to sign the letter at their current rate, Princeton stands to gain more financially by divesting from fossil fuels than not because of the increased giving it would bring. Princeton’s net-zero carbon campus will be one of a kind, a shining light to the world. Wouldn’t it be silly if we’re still putting the Tiger in the proverbial tank when it’s completed?

Dan Armstrong ’72
Eugene, Ore.