The Solution to Our Skewed Priorities

Dear Board of Trustees,

I was brought up with the Quaker values of SPICES:
Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship. These
values guide my life and my work, explaining why fossil fuel divestment is
important to me. Supporting fossil fuel companies with our investments goes
against the values with which I guide my life and also goes against the similar
values of Pomona College.

SPICES: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship. Integrity to let my life speak and stand up for my beliefs.
Integrity meaning that I act in ways that align with my values and allow others to do
the same. I cannot live without integrity, and Pomona College cannot operate with
integrity while investing in fossil fuels. The power fossil fuels have in our
government, economy and social systems to act with impunity, to dirty our
communities and our futures without a second thought, is not something I can
support. 

Although I recognize that I use fossil fuels all the time, I know it is
because I live in a system that does not currently allow feasible alternatives.
Divestment works in solidarity with thousands around the world to
build a base to change the dependency we have on fossil fuels. It creates
viable openings for alternatives that will allow us to live with integrity and
build sustainable futures.

Community. Fossil fuel companies and fossil fuels have disastrous effects on our local and global communities, our human and
ecological communities. In our own backyard, Los Angeles County, oil drilling is destroying the local environment, ruining the health of our neighbors and
breaking apart communities. This same drilling increases pollution and rates of
respiratory illnesses in addition to contaminating groundwater and land. 

Farther away, Shell Oil worked in Nigeria for years, spoiling the land and the
people, and was not held responsible for one penny of remediation. Although Shell
is giving some Nigerian communities money, that does not compensate for nor
justify the irreversible damage caused by the company’s presence and extraction
methods. Pomona needs to take a stand for affected communities,
recognize that all deserve to live in healthy communities and divest from
fossil fuel companies that ruin communities without penalty. Our neighbors are
looking to us to use our power for good.

With community comes equality. The effects of natural
resource exploitation disproportionately impact low-income populations. While
fossil fuel companies amass billions every year, these communities will never experience the profits that might come from their exploitation. Divesting from fossil fuels is a
powerful statement that Pomona is an institution that actively works to allow
all communities to thrive. Divesting from fossil fuels will not solve inequality, but it is
one important step to hold oppressive systems accountable. 

All of our food, water, products, economies, social structures and daily interactions depend on the environment. It is vital to be stewards to
the environment in order to maintain a healthy, sustainable Earth that can
support itself and support us. Environmental stewardship is one of the most
important actions an individual can take to make a positive impact down the
road. For years, exploitive fossil fuel companies have ruined our environment
and poisoned ecosystems around the globe. I fully recognize that divesting from
fossil fuels is, once again, only a step in healing our damaged Earth. I am
working for divestment as part of a comprehensive approach to environmental
stewardship, working on projects from hands-on native plant restoration, to
sustainable farming, to education, to political change. All these steps are
essential, and neither I nor Pomona can afford to miss a single one.

To the SPICES, I also add responsibility. Responsibility.
Responsibility for my communities, responsibility for the Earth, responsibility
for my life and responsibility for the future. As an educated woman with the
power to raise my voice and use my actions to make change, I have the
responsibility to work to right the wrongs I see in the world. I have the
capacity to work for a healthy, sustainable Earth, for healthy, sustainable
communities, toward a future where all can live and thrive. 

Pomona is educating
future world citizens and leaders and has the responsibility to use its money,
power and voice to act in a way that aligns with its vision for
the future. Pomona needs to help spearhead the divestment initiative by setting
the precedent. Support from a well-established institution like Pomona will
change how we view the world and how we interact with energy and fossil fuel
companies. Our school should understand the negative consequences of its
investments and use its influence to turn those investments into positive
change. Fossil fuel divestment is essential in building political and social
momentum for sustainability and momentum for the Earth—a fact Pomona should
seriously consider.

Sincerely,

Emily Freilich

Emily Freilich PO ’18 is pursuing a degree in environmental
studies. She is the club coordinator for the Pomona Fossil Fuel Divestment
Campaign.

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