Spotlight on Rollins Coalition for Sustainable Development

The reality of climate change, the capability to invest in renewable energy sources, and possible actions that could make Rollins a greener campus are just a few examples of the topics that Rollins Coalition for Sustainable Investment (RCSI) educates the student body about. Scott Novak ’15, started the coalition during the fall of 2015. The idea behind his movement for divestment came from Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything.

To put it in simpler terms, divestment is pretty much the opposite of investment. The divestment movement’s purpose is to challenge individuals, groups, corporations that do not conduct business on moral and ethical grounds by removing financial support previously granted them.

Recently, RCSI has been raising awareness on fossil fuel divestment, and there have been fundraisers held on campus in support of Standing Rock. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with many other supporters, has protested the government’s construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) through their sovereign land. The DAPL would directly affect the tribe’s water supply, leading to contamination, as well as that of many other inhabitants that live along the Missouri River. If we invest in companies that build pipelines like the DAPL—among them many popular banks—then we are complicit to the environmental and human rights catastrophes that they will inevitably cause.

RCSI reminds us that it is never too late to start making a change, even if it seems like a small one

When speaking to members of RCSI, leadership’s three main goals were stated clearly: “freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies immediately, divest within two to five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds, and direct at least 1% of previous fossil fuels investments into renewable energy and other socially sustainable funds.” RCSI works with the students and faculty to ensure the investments made on the college’s behalf align with RCSI’s mission statement. The organization has made great progress by convincing the Rollins College Board of Trustees to invest $400,000, or 10% of funds, in the MSCI Low Carbon Target fund.

RCSI promotes the power of the individual. Positive actions that can be taken on a daily basis are as simple as recycling and replacing light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs. Reducing your intake of beef can go a long way as well. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup pour billions of dollars into supporting fossil fuels; moving your bank account to an institution that does not invest in fossil fuels is a small step in making a huge difference.

RCSI holds weekly meetings at the Sullivan House on Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. The organization stays active by holding events, tabling around the Cornell Campus Center, passing out petitions, and more. The organization will also have a table at the German Festival coming up in December to provide more information on their latest involvements.

RCSI reminds us that it is never too late to start making a change, even if it seems like a small one. The time is now.

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