An Open Letter to Mary DiMarino, Bryn Mawr College Director of Annual Giving

Dear Mary,

Thank you for forwarding me the video. It’s very well done, and it brings back many fond memories of my time at Bryn Mawr. The voices of the young women resonate with me — especially phrases like “ground-breaking, game-changing, and gotten there first.”

But the resonance is bittersweet.

Like the student in the video, “Bryn Mawr has taught me that I’m an ethical person who has morals and beliefs that matter.” As I see the images coming in from Hurricane Harvey, from Hurricane Irma, from Hurricane Maria, from the inferno blazing through the Northwest US, from the devastation being suffered in Southeast Asia, from the melting Arctic and Antarctica, my moral clarity couldn’t be clearer.

For the past several years I have been a Donor for Divestment — with my donations to the college contingent on the college’s commitment to divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry. I’ve had my checks repeatedly returned to me, as the College refuses to consider divesting from this reckless, destructive sector of the economy.

Today, as fossil-fueled climate destruction wreaks havoc all over the world, it is impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. It should also be impossible to ignore the college’s moral responsibility to do what it can about this existential threat. The obvious first step — the step that will make a real difference — is to make a commitment to divest the endowment.

Divestment is also a financially prudent step at this point. Like the student in the video, I too “really really want Bryn Mawr to be there for future generations.” The argument that the College has made in the past against divestment, that divesting would be an abrogation of its fiduciary duty, is simply no longer accurate. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly the opposite. The carbon bubble is real, and when it bursts, those left exposed to that risk will be ruined. Removing itself from the risk of a bursting carbon bubble should be the first order of business for the College.

I have been waiting for years now for Bryn Mawr to take leadership on this issue. With over 5.5 trillion dollars in assets already divested, by institutions ranging from the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund to the World Council of Churches, it’s obviously too late for the College to ‘get there first’ — but it’s not too late to do the right thing.

I urge you, do the right thing and divest. Now.

Sincerely,

Vanessa Warheit

BMC ‘90