To the Editors:

The members of Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) are disappointed by the recent reporting the Orient has done regarding fossil fuel divestment. Rather than attempting to facilitate a productive conversation, the Orient accused the student group of intentionally misrepresenting student support for its own benefit. Not only is such a claim false, but it is also wrongly damaging to a student group that has actively pursued an open and productive debate on campus.

The claim that only 825 petition signatures are valid is a misconstrual of the facts. The master spreadsheet, which was supplied to President Barry Mills, contained 1,000 unique student signatures calling on the College to divest. Today this signature count is nearly 1,200. We apologize for not being clear about the discrepancy between the physical and electronic signatures.

Investigative journalism, simply by its stakes, is beholden to the highest standards of objectivity—to present the facts not only as they appear, but also in relation to the context they exist in. In this case, the Orient failed; desire to break a scandal trumped understanding and unbiased reporting. 

Where objective journalism would have sought out the rationale of the so-called silenced dissent, the Orient merely asserted its existence. Likewise, with divestment, it failed to actually explore the proposal made before the Trustees—attention to the crux of the argument was replaced by a focus on those arguing. 

All of us, for the sake of a constructive and intelligent discourse, owe it to each other to have this conversation with the utmost respect and understanding that Bowdoin demands of us. BCA will continue to pursue a collaborative student-faculty-Trustee effort focused on developing a responsible divestment policy, which best suits both the moral and financial obligations of the College.

Hugh Ratcliffe ’15
Peter Nauffts ’15
Clara Belitz ’17