Editors note, April 15, 6:10 p.m.: This article originally stated that John Studzinski '78 was a member of the Investments Committee of the Board of Trustees. Studzinski does not sit on the Investments Committee. The article has been updated to correct this inaccuracy. 

This past Tuesday, students across the country leveraged their power in a national movement for fossil fuel divestment. They tasted victory at James Madison University when the administration took the first step and agreed to investigate divestment. When students at Harvard and University of Massachusetts Amherst sat in and were arrested, they promised that this was only the beginning.

Students took action because the urgency of climate change requires swift, bold action on behalf of ourselves, our future and all affected by the climate crisis. Understanding the fossil fuel industry to be the root of climate change, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) began campaigning for fossil fuel divestment in the fall of 2012, and the movement now reaches more than 500 campuses worldwide. Divestment is a powerful way for students to leverage the wealth and influence of their colleges to challenge the fossil fuel industry’s destructive practices.

On Tuesday, Yale students achieved victory when the University announced it would begin to divest its $25.6 billion endowment from fossil fuels. In a letter to the Yale community, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen—who mentored our own Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent—condemned the fossil fuel industry as both a risky and declining investment and counter to Yale’s morals. He is, in Bowdoin’s own words, a leader.

Clearly the time to divest is now, so why hasn’t Bowdoin? We were curious about what might be obstructing dialogue on this critical issue, and what we found was extremely concerning. Several trustees on our Investment Committee have deep ties to the oil and gas industry, which may be impeding them from taking leadership. Today, we wish to share these conflicts of interest.

Take Sheldon Stone, for example. Stone sits on Bowdoin’s Investment Committee and is responsible for advising the College financially. His investing expertise comes from his position as principal and portfolio manager at Oaktree Capital, which boasts $2 billion in energy investments, largely in oil and gas infrastructure. In 2003, the firm invested in the Longhorn Pipeline, a 764-mile pipeline transporting refined petroleum products through Texas. In 2014, Oaktree purchased Highstar Capital, an energy-focused fund with large oil and gas pipeline and storage holdings. To top it off, Greenpeace named Stone a “kingpin of carbon” in 2014.

John Studzinski, namesake of Studzinski Recital Hall, is a former trustee. He acts as managing director of The Blackstone Group, a firm with 6 percent of its total assets invested in the energy sector for a total of $1.5 billion. In 2015, it jumped on slumping oil prices and began “scrambling” to buy up shares in distressed energy corporations, U.S. shale operators and international energy exploration.

A third key decision-maker at the College is Stanley Druckenmiller, whose influence extends way beyond the name of our science building. Druckenmiller is the sole emeritus member of the Investment Committee and plays a pivotal role in managing our endowment. His hedge fund, Duquesne Capital Management, has invested in high-risk natural gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, a project run by Energy XXI, which boasts the slogan, “Acquire. Exploit. Deliver.” Duquesne Capital also bought up shares in Massey Energy just months before the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in West Virginia, where 29 miners were killed in an explosion in April 2010. Massey Energy’s former CEO, Don Blankenship, was just sentenced to prison after being found responsible for the explosion due to unsafe working conditions.

It is extremely concerning that the man who endowed our science building would so clearly undermine his commitment to advancing climate and environmental science by investing in such destructive practices.

Together, these facts paint a troubling picture. Stone, Studzinski and Druckenmiller have no incentive to engage productively on divestment when they are themselves financially tied to the fossil fuel industry.

As a prospective student, I hoped to find an institution whose values aligned with my own. Upon reading the Offer of the College, I believed I had found such an institution. Leadership, commitment to the Common Good and connection to place—Bowdoin portrays itself as a college committed to meaningful climate action, and I was excited to be among the community. Stepping on campus for the first time as an enrolled student instead of an aspiring one, I was disappointed to learn instead that my education was partially funded by this destructive industry. However, my love for Bowdoin wasn’t lessened. Now, I, along with my fellow BCA members, strive to better Bowdoin, to make it a place of effective climate leadership that we can be proud of. We do this out of love - and a fear for our future.

Our goal is not to condemn things that happened in the past or money that has made our education possible. What we hope is to have a transparent relationship with our decision makers, unclouded by the influence of the fossil fuel industry. We bring these conflicts of interest to light in order to create the possibility for change, not obstruct progress.

Today is just the beginning. To Sheldon Stone, John Studzinski, Stanley Druckenmiller and the Investment Committee: we ask that you demonstrate that your ties to the fossil fuel industry are not holding us back. With a crisis so urgent, we must take bold action. It’s time for Bowdoin to lead with us.

Isabella McCann is a member of the class of 2019.