Statement regarding Yale-Harvard weekend from President Peter Salovey
On Yale-Harvard weekend, many of us watched one of the most exciting comebacks in the history of Yale football — leading to an unforgettable double-overtime defeat of Harvard and an Ivy League Championship. Our students performed magnificently.
The game will be memorable for a second reason. At halftime, students (and some alumni, parents, and friends) from Yale and Harvard conducted a demonstration at midfield principally advocating for the two universities to divest endowment holdings from fossil fuels.
Excellent police work led by our chief of police, Ronnell Higgins, was met, in the end, with a cooperative response by most. I am grateful for this shared sense of restraint and understanding. My thanks also to Yale and Harvard coaches, Ivy League officials, and ESPN for working together to finish the game before dark.
Reflecting on the day and on reactions from members of the Yale community and beyond, I find two things to be especially important.
First, we all share an interest in upholding the right of community members to teach, learn, speak, perform, and gather without undue imposition. For that reason, Yale has rules and disciplinary procedures that support free expression while prohibiting significant disruption of campus activities. But even more important than these rules per se is our collective belief in the underlying principles they are designed to protect.
Second, Yale is committed to addressing climate change substantively and relentlessly — and with increasing intensity. In these very weeks, our faculty are planning new avenues of teaching and research as part of our initiative to invest in “planetary solutions.” Separately, a committee has been meeting regularly in order to form a more aggressive strategy for making Yale a carbon-net-zero campus: it will report out soon. And we continue to be one of the only institutions to have imposed a carbon charge on our own buildings.
While Yale does not favor divestment, our Investments Office engages constructively with investment managers on the climate impacts of their portfolio companies. Since 2014, the university has followed a policy of supporting shareholder resolutions calling for company disclosures that address climate change issues. Yale asks its outside endowment managers not to hold companies that disregard the social and financial costs of climate change and that fail to take economically sensible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Yale will continue to engage with community members who have concerns or ideas about investment policy. The Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) advises the Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility, a standing committee of the Yale board of trustees that is responsible for making recommendations to the full board and implementing policies related to issues around investor responsibility. Membership of the ACIR comprises two students (one graduate and one undergraduate), two alumni, two faculty, and two staff members. The ACIR holds regular meetings and meetings upon request by members of the Yale community. Additionally, its student representatives make themselves available to their respective student communities. Yale wants, and benefits from, community input on its investment policies.
Yale has the will and the capacity to make a profound difference in the fight for our planet’s future. In this shared work, we must above all find strength in what unites us.
President, Yale University