We demand that Yale:
1. Disclose all investments in Puerto Rican debt & instruct fund managers with investments in Puerto Rican debt to cancel that debt.
2. Disclose & divest all holdings in fossil fuel companies.
Yale profits off of climate destruction and the continued exploitation of Puerto Rico. We envision, and demand, a university that instead invests in our futures and our city.
We can’t speak about climate destruction without acknowledging the ways in which it is already affecting marginalized people in disproportionate and unjust ways. We know that climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is a racial and economic justice issue. This is true around the world, it is true in Puerto Rico, and it is true in New Haven, where Yale has a massive impact on the economic wellbeing of the city. Even as Yale boasts about its sustainable campus and cutting edge climate research, it continues to perpetuate injustice at home and abroad.
We demand that Yale disclose its investments in Puerto Rican debt and that it pressure its fund managers to cancel that debt. As of 2018, at least three of Yale’s investment managers were invested in Puerto Rican debt. Our university has the power to help decide whether Puerto Rico can put its resources towards rebuilding its infrastructure after the hurricane, or whether it must instead pay off creditors and hedge funds, like Baupost, that stand to profit from the island’s economic distress. Furthermore, much of this debt may be illegal and illegitimate, and the Puerto Rican debt should undergo a full audit before creditors require that it be paid back. By pressuring its fund managers to cancel Puerto Rico’s debt, Yale would send a clear message that it stands against the exploitation of those who are feeling the effects of climate change first, like island communities. Puerto Ricans are ready and able to rebuild from María, and to fight for liberation, justice, and sustainability in their communities. They should not be hampered by austerity measures imposed by the corrupt and non-democratically elected PROMESA.
We demand that Yale disclose its holdings in fossil fuel companies and divest from the fossil fuel industry. The business model of the fossil fuel industry is inherently exploitative. It is uniquely culpable in the climate crisis. At this critical moment of rising sea-levels, increasingly frequent natural disasters, and an environmentally regressive federal government, investing in fossil fuels is inexcusable. We know that Yale has at least $600 million invested in the fossil fuel industry, including $357,000 in Antero, one of the worst fracking companies in North America. We would like to note that after our first non-violent direct action on December 7, 2018, Yale quietly sold 99% of its holdings in Antero, which were previously $78 million. But we believe that the University’s total investments are probably much higher. Yale should be transparent about these investments, and Yale should divest completely.
There is international scientific consensus that a global transformation away from a fossil fuel economy is necessary and urgent. In October 2018, the world’s leading climate scientists published the landmark IPCC report on climate change, which gives us 11 years to keep global warming below 1.5° Celsius. More than 1.5° of warming will mean exponentially increased sea level rise, food scarcity, climate poverty, extreme weather, and forced migration. Despite the overwhelming consensus that we need to radically slow the extraction of fossil fuels in order to address the climate crisis, the Yale investments office claims that it is consumers, not producers, who are causing climate change.
Also urgent is the call by Puerto Rican activists and citizens to end austerity measures and allow the island to begin a full, just recovery. By continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies and continuing to profit off of the crisis in Puerto Rico, Yale is continuing a pattern of exploitation stretching back centuries. The United States has deliberately created conditions of dependency and debt in its island territory, all while continuing to deny its citizens the right to vote in federal elections. Now, hedge funds like Baupost are suing the island to ensure that they are paid before PR fulfills its obligations to its own citizens. The federal government has appointed an oversight board (PROMESA) which has implemented severe austerity measures. Yale must take a stand against a model of colonization that prioritizes the profit of hedge funds over the wellbeing of people, including our friends and neighbors here in New Haven.
Together, students and other New Haven residents stand against the way that Yale invests in colonialism and climate injustice while mirroring the same extractive colonialism paradigms right here in New Haven. Yale claims to be committed to higher and more humane goals than simple profit motives, but in practice prioritizes its own power, prestige, and wealth rather than the wellbeing of the entire community. Yale dominates the land and labor markets of New Haven, and uses this dominance to its advantage by continuing to buy up property in the city and fighting unionism.
The time has come for direct action. We demand that Yale consider our future instead of acting in a single-minded pursuit of profit. We have attempted to work through the administrative channels available and found that they served instead as administrative obstacles. We even learned that as we proceeded in what we thought were good faith negotiations with the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, its chair was campaigning to be on the Hess Corporation’s Board of Trustees.
The Yale investments office is massively influential in the world of endowments. Right now, they are invested in climate destruction through fossil fuels and exploitation and imperialism through Puerto Rican debt. They justify these investments through a willful naivete that amounts to gross negligence. Yale could invest in the economic transformation climate change requires. Their decision to divest from fossil fuels and cancel Puerto Rican debt would have reverberations around the world.
Students, New Haven, and Puerto Rico are powerful, and we will hold this university accountable!
These demands were written in Spring 2018 — see The Yale Endowment for our most up-to-date information on Yale's investments.
Groups signing in support
Despierta Boricua at Yale
Fossil Free Yale
Association of Native Americans at Yale
Yale Young Democratic Socialists of America
Local 33 UNITE HERE
New Haven Climate Movement
Party for Socialism and Liberation- CT
Yale Women’s Center
Sierra Club Connecticut
Sierra Club Puerto Rico
Environmental Justice at Yale
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Yale Students for Prison Divestment
Yale Students for Justice in Palestine
Jewish Climate Action Network
CT Puerto Rican Agenda
Yale College Democrats
New Haven Stands with Standing Rock
Fossil Free Penn
Climate Justice at Boston College
Divest University of Kentucky
Yale Refugee Project
Yale Students for Bernie
Sunrise New Haven
The South Asian Society at Yale
Yale Students for Yemen
The Yale Animal Welfare Alliance
The Yale Student Environmental Coalition
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) de Yale