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Reedies get respectful response from college trustees on fossil fuel divestment

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF DIVEST REED - Reedies wait outside a Board of Trustees meeting to discuss student plea for college to divest fossil fuel holdings. Student activists at Reed College hope to meet with the college’s Board of Trustees again in April, after issuing a plea during the board’s February meeting to sell off Reed’s investments in fossil fuel companies.

Seven students from the group Fossil Free Reed addressed the trustees during a Feb. 7 board meeting, suggesting that investments in oil and gas industries conflict with Reed’s values.

“Supporting the fossil fuel industry by holding its financial assets promotes business-as-usual, a morally and environmentally unfeasible status quo,” said one of the students, Austin Weisgrau.

During the students’ 10-minute presentation and ensuing 20-minute interchange with trustees, supporters of the divestment movement stood outside in the snow to show their solidarity.

Afterwards, Board of Trustees Chairman Roger Perlmutter sent a letter to the students, thanking them for their “thoughtful appeal” and promising to give consideration to the proposed change in Reed investment policies.

The board’s Executive Committee, convened in Portland for the trustees’ meeting, discussed the students' presentation the next day for an hour, Perlmutter saidd. “I am now considering that discussion as well as your presentation, and developing a process for evaluating your proposal,” he wrote.

Perlmutter also promised to communicate a response to the entire Reed community in an open letter, as requested by the students.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF DIVEST REED - Reedie climate activists show solidarity with students meeting with college Board of Trustees.Fossil Free Reed is part of a national movement stirring on college campuses and elsewhere, led by 350.org, that’s calling on institutional investors to divest in stocks of oil and gas companies. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the root causes of global warming and speed the shift to renewable energy, to stem climate change.

The Reedie students are being supported by alumni who are members of 350PDX, the local chapter of 350.org.

Steve Law can reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Twitter: @SteveLawTrib

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