Letter to the Cornell Daily Sun: The Folly of Dismissing Symbolism



Protesters Organize, Declare Death of Shared Governance




Thank you commenters!

46 students, faculty, staff, and alumni commented on the University Assembly’s anti-divestment resolution. Every single one of the comments was pro-divestment. This comments came in a comment period shortened to 6 days from the regular 30 days. This is inspiring.

Comments on University Assembly Resolution 16UA_comments


Pack the UA Meeting on May 6!



Last week the UA put forward Resolution 16, which explicitly “declares against divestment [from fossil fuels]” despite the fact that the SA, GPSA, and Faculty Senate have all passed consistent measures of support for it in the past year. Find the text of the resolution (and comments) here:


Join us next Tuesday to PACK THE UA meeting and send a clear message that we will not allow fossil fuel divestment to be dismissed so easily.

The specifics:
UA Resolution 16 “Carbon Neutrality and Divestment” separates divestment from its proposed counterpart policy of reducing Cornell’s carbon neutrality deadline from 2050 to 2035. By doing this, it expresses support for the 2035 deadline while essentially taking divestment off the table, labeling it as purely “symbolic” and and inappropriate use of funds donated by alumni.

However, KyotoNOW! (DivestNOW!) has maintained the position that symbolic actions are inherently valuable and are necessary for bringing the university’s policy in line with its stated mission and goals. Further, a commitment to divest Cornell has the potential to catalyze change among our highly influential peer institutions. The fact that divestment would not have a significant impact on fossil fuel extraction or carbon emissions is not reason to dismiss it altogether.



Comment on the University Assembly’s anti-divestment resolution

At the Cornell University Assembly’s meeting on Tuesday, the chair of the UA, Jim Blair, introduced Resolution 16 that explicitly “declares against divestment” while supporting the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2035. We know that divestment cannot be separated from carbon emission goals.

Here’s the resolution: Cornell UA Resolution 16

This resolution will be voted on at the UA’s meeting on May 6.

You can submit your thoughts on this resolution at: https://assembly.cornell.edu/staffing/motions/312

The comment period closes this Thursday, May 1 at 11:59PM (UA comment periods are usually 30 days — this one is just 6!).

Some talking points:

  • Divestment cannot be separated from carbon neutrality – one without the other is an incomplete and hypocritical act.
  • Being dismissive of symbolism is unjust – divestment is symbolic, yes, but also has very real political implications. It can easily be argued that carbon neutrality is a symbolic act in that it only has a tangible effect in its ability to inspire other institutions to do the same. That is exactly what divestment seeks to do.
  • No one can claim to know why each donor gives to the University, and to try to do so is egregious
  • World-class research doesn’t accomplish anything if politics lies upstream of it, preventing its full-scale implementation. “Educating” students that hypocrisy is okay is not education at all.

Tabling at Mann Library

Come to Mann library now!

Answer a question and get a free cookie, and learn more about climate change and divestment!



KyotoNOW! Screening of FALL AND WINTER: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century (FREE Manndibles food!)

Come join us on Thursday April 24 at 6:30PM in 251 Malott Hall for a screening of Fall and Winter: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century, a spectacularly photographed journey across the country exploring the unfolding global climate and environmental crisis. The film is a rallying effort to find our way back to harmony with nature. Watch the trailer at their website here: http://www.fallwintermovie.com/

Following the film, we will enjoy food and refreshments catered by Manndibles while discussing the ideas presented in the film, as well as the action it calls for. Come enjoy a beautiful film, learn more about climate change and the environmental crisis, and talk with some members of KyotoNOW!, who are active in Cornell’s fossil fuel divestment campaign.

Thank you to Manndibles Cafe for generously donating food and refreshments to our event!