In a recent school-wide ballot measure, 78 percent of Pomona College students voted to request that the administration divest portions of the college’s $1.7 billion endowment currently invested in fossil fuels. The April 9 landslide vote was widely hailed by progressive-minded students at the Claremont Colleges as a sign of environmental consciousness and a step forward for sustainability.
However, others have asserted that the recently passed divestment measure does not go far enough. Riding on the coattails of their overwhelming victory, some Pomona College student leaders of the Claremont Colleges Divestment Campaign (CCDC) have already announced just weeks after their historic win that they have drafted a new ballot measure and will be calling for yet another referendum before the end of the semester.
The referendum, dubbed “Divestment 2.0,” is rumored to contain provisions that provide for a complete distancing of Pomona College students from the “immoral fossil fuel economy.” If passed, it would require the entire Pomona College campus and student body be moved to the Amish countryside of Western Pennsylvania, where Pomona college students will learn the “true meaning of sustainability.” Megan Torukmakto PO ’15, one of the most prominent voices favoring divestment at Pomona College, helped draft the new resolution and is one of its strongest supporters.
“There was definitely an element of hypocrisy that came with the initial vote for divestment” said Megan. “It didn’t make sense for Pomona College students who voted for divestment to continue flying to Australia during the summer to conduct anthropological studies on feminism in modern aboriginal society. Trips like that spew about a thousand pounds of carbon into the atmosphere and we don’t even give it a second thought.” Torukmakto also lamented the fact that the majority of Pomona College students have continued to purchase Apple products manufactured in the coal-guzzling factories of urban China.
Kaie Arons PO’15 expressed similar sentiments, saying, “It’s contradictory for Pomona College students to make such a sweeping symbolic move to separate itself from fossil fuels, yet continue consuming so many products made from fossil fuels. Even the posters we made for our March 4th divestment rally were made from paper produced by polluting mills. Divestment 2.0 will finally give CCDC the chance to organize sustainable demonstrations.”
Despite Pomona College President David Oxotoby’s concerns that the lack of fossil-fueled technology, including computers, printers, and electric lighting, will hamper the institution’s quality of education, student proponents of Divestment 2.0 have insisted that the college’s future location will be just as robust of a learning environment. Supporters of Divestment 2.0 are rumored to have already begun reprinting textbooks on hand-made paper using the Honnold-Mudd Library printing press. Students in the college’s science department have also begun blowing glass beakers and test tubes for use in the college’s future log-cabin labs. These and many other fossil fuel-free educational materials will be transported in a covered-wagon train along with Pomona College’s over 1500 students once the referendum passes.
In addition to the usual courses in science, English, foreign languages, and mathematics, students at Pomona College’s new sustainable campus will offer new sustainability courses taught by local Amish, which will include Organic Corn farming 50, Intro to Husbandry, Weaving 1A and 2B, Barn-raising 101 and more. Although some of these courses will become part of Pomona College’s general education requirements, proponents of Divestment 2.0 have stated that vegans will be exempt from classes on ranching, egg farming and dairy-production.
In the meantime, Pitzer Anthropology Professor Daniel Seagull has announced his intention to draft Pitzer College’s own version of Divestment 2.0, titled “Divestment X-treme.” In a stunning act of one-upmanship, Professor Seagull has suggested that Pitzer College’s main campus be moved to the east coast of Brazil instead, where students will learn the skills and traditions of the Amazonian natives. Volunteers have already reportedly begun constructing Polynesian-style canoes using sustainable wood harvested from fallen trees. The 9,000-mile voyage to Pitzer College’s new Brazilian campus will take the students around the southern tip of South America and is expected to take several months. Though use of the Panama Canal would substantially shorten the journey, proponents of Divestment X-treme have maintained that they refuse to utilize a monument of U.S. imperialist legacy in their travels.
Professor Seagull concluded in his official statement announcing Divestment X-treme that, “Unlike our peers at Pomona College who seem to have neglected the environmental contributions of the oppressed and marginalized third world, we here at Pitzer have not.” Pitzer students have generally welcomed Divestment X-treme as an opportunity to experience a non-Western form of sustainable living. Pitzer Student Senate Vice Chair Seabasstion Aguilar PZ ’14 echoed these sentiments. “So much of liberal arts education is already built upon the white colonialist capitalist patriarchy,” Aguilar said. “It would be a shame if we make sustainability education so Euro-centric as well.”