LETTERS: 11.22.2013

Letters from Young and Fisher.

Divestment is not enough

On Monday, the News endorsed the University’s divestment plan, claiming it would set a precedent that other schools could follow and ultimately limit the injuries caused by climate change (“Vote to Divest,” Nov. 18). While pushing for divestment, however, the News failed to closely inspect how the plan would achieve this honorable aim. To apply pressure to the most egregious polluters, we must actively boycott them.

Divesting our endowment doesn’t change how these companies are priced on the open market. Even if a number of schools followed suit — and we managed to cause a momentary supply surplus, thus marginally reducing share prices — opportunist investors would step in, buy the securities at discounted prices and return them to their long-run equilibrium values.

Nothing changes.

While divesting from heavy polluters may feel nice and exonerate us in some idealistic way, it doesn’t reflect the true nature of our role in contributing to climate change. We back climate change when we use the cheap energy these companies provide to heat our rooms, light our buildings and maintain our comfortable lifestyles. If we are actually serious about combating climate change and want to set a proactive example, we must cut down our consumption of cheap energy. This, unlike divestment, impacts the revenues of heavy polluters, pressuring them to adopt more environmentally aware policies.

Unfortunately, all the uproar directed towards divestment only detracts from this objective. Our adulation of divestment is hardly surprising: It is (nearly) costless and outside the scope of our everyday lives. But if we wish to make a real impact on climate change and truly limit its injuries, we must make real sacrifices. Divesting from these companies and yet continuing to do business with them is confused and naïve at best, and self-righteous and dishonest at worst.

Zach Young

Nov. 19

The author is a freshman in Silliman College.

Embracing reality

If everybody who organized a sparsely attended event wrote a column complaining, the News would be filled each day with aggressive diatribes akin to yesterday’s by Heidi Guzmán ’14 (“A racialized rejection,” Nov. 21).

An unsurprising side effect of attending a university with such an abundance of extracurricular activities is that not every event will be well attended. It is in everyone’s best interests for the UOC to focus its limited funding towards those proposals that it expects will attract the widest possible audience and to ask probing questions of applicants in order to ascertain which are most worthy of its support.

Though the questions explored by Guzmán’s panel are undoubtedly of value, the same thing could be said for countless other events. There is no reason why hers deserved special treatment. She needlessly suggested that the UOC’s decisions were motivated by race when it is clear that they were simply following reasonable protocol. Her column also cast sweeping and unsubstantiated aspersions regarding the student population as a whole and their reasons for perceived lack of engagement with activities arranged by La Casa.

At a time when funding for student events is constrained, I am disappointed that the UOC responded to baseless accusations of “racialization” by opening up its checkbook. To take such a step sets a troubling precedent.

Perhaps the lack of attendance at Guzmán’s event was indeed a missed opportunity. But it is a fact of life at Yale that we experience these every single day.

Alex Fisher

Nov. 21

The author is a senior in Morse College.

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