1. Do you support Harvard divesting its endowment from the fossil fuel industry in order to avert further environmental and human rights crises due to climate change?
2. Do you agree that Harvard College should re-examine its sexual assault policies and practices?
3. Do you support creating a social choice fund within Harvard’s endowment, thereby providing an opportunity for donors to choose whether their contributions to Harvard are invested for positive social impact while also making profit for the University?
More details about the referenda.
1. We call upon Harvard to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded companies that own the majority of global fossil fuel reserves and to reinvest in socially responsible funds. There is strong scientific evidence to support the link between burning fossil fuels and rising global temperatures that increase the frequency of extreme weather. Divestment is a powerful action against climate change that will weaken the influence of the fossil fuel industry. Estimates show that these 200 companies can only burn 20% of their reserves to avoid catastrophic warming. Harvard must divest from these companies to help mitigate the climate crisis and avoid financial loss when markets realize that the carbon industry is no longer sustainable. Over 1000 Harvard community members and several student groups have endorsed the Divest Harvard campaign, and forty-seven schools around the nation are now part of the fossil fuel divestment movement. For more information, visit justandstable.org/divestharvard.
2. Harvard should re-examine its sexual assault policies and practices with a focus on actively engaging student input throughout the process. Harvard should adopt a policy of affirmative consent, currently in use by all other Ivy League schools, to lessen ambiguity so that miscommunication is never an excuse for rape. The institutional gesture of switching to an affirmative consent based policy will demonstrate Harvard’s commitment to a campus culture where sex is defined as mutual. Harvard must also specify a mental incapacitation phrase to make clear the point at which an individual is unable to consent under the influence. Harvard should be transparent about its internal conversations on sexual assault policy, about the procedures and relevant outcomes of the administrative board process, and about the resources it has in place for its students. We ask that Harvard increase funding for and number of staff members available to the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. Harvard should also provide comprehensive sex education for students of all years and use language inclusive of LGBTQ-identifying students. The involvement of student voices can ensure the comprehensive resolution of the aforementioned concerns
3. The creation of a social choice fund option–whose investment guidelines follow environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria for positive social impact–would prioritize investment opportunities which both promote social good and yield high returns. Since the 1970s Harvard has faced several high-profile protest campaigns related to its investment practices. The management of the university’s $30.7 billion endowment has furthermore proven to be opaque, additionally undermining trust within our community. Alumni, faculty, and student donors should be offered the option, when asked to contribute to Harvard, of directing their gifts to a fund which takes into account social as well as fiduciary responsibility. A social choice fund would be an important step toward building an endowment that is better for the university and for the world.