The divestment movement has been making headlines this year, and this week we have another one for you from the deep green mountains of Poultney, VT:  the Green Mountain College Board of Trustees has voted to divest!

Green Mountain College students at Mountain Justice Spring Break March 2013

Green Mountain College students at Mountain Justice Spring Break March 2013

The decision came from the President and the Board on Friday, May 10th, months after students started organizing for divestment at the college.  After a semester of pushing and staying on message, the administration agreed that the divestment team had the whole school behind them, and made the obvious choice for the famously sustainable liberal arts college.  Here is what went down:

In late February 2013 students from Campus Activism (Green Mountain College’s Climate Justice group) joined the student chorus for divestment in Vermont by kick-starting their own campaign.  They came out with a bang, hosting a teach-in asking students to “make GMC put its money where its mouth is”.  In early March, excited about the buzz the teach-in created on campus, students attending Mountain Justice Spring Break decided to put their heads together to figure out their strategic next steps for a divestment win by the end of the semester.

What came next reflected the prudent planning of the spring break team.  Students rallied the campus, obtained over 325 petitions (more than half the student body), built relationships with administrators, and worked with the student government to achieve a resolution for divestment (which was supported unanimously).  As all the moving pieces started coming together, students wondered if their power building on campus would translate into administrative buy-in.

After weeks of waiting to hear if their requests to meet with trustees and pitch their case would be met, students resolved to keep pushing, keep meeting with decision makers, and keep engaging the student body, knowing that a vote NO, or no vote at all, would need to mean escalation.  Their relentless efforts paid off when, on May 9th, they were given an audience with trustees and an opportunity to lay down their two demands; 1.) Immediately place a screen on the 200 fossil fuel companies as a part of an investment policy and freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and 2.) Commit to community dialogue with students, faculty, and staff to help define what ecologically and socially irresponsible mean.

After leaving the meeting with no answers, unsure if their asks had fallen upon deaf ears, students resolved to attend the final hours of the annual board meeting at President Fonteyn’s house the next day, where they learned that not only had the trustees listened, but they had voted for divestment and agreed to meet both student demands.

Congratulations to Campus Activism for the hard work that has gotten Green Mountain College on to what we know will become an even longer list of divesting schools.  A win for one of us is a win for all of us, and this week, the movement humbly salutes you.