Wesleyan Ends Encampment

This afternoon (May 18th) I sent the following message to the Wesleyan community. Over the weeks and months to come, I look forward to working with students, faculty, alumni and staff to help our university continue to be a force for positive contributions to the public sphere. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE WESLEYAN!

But now, we will be preparing for Reunion and to celebrate the class of 2024 at Commencement!

Dear friends,

Over the course of the past three weeks, the Administration has been in meaningful engagement with the group of pro-Palestinian protesters on campus. Our conversations have been rooted in a shared affection for Wesleyan and a desire that the institution be aligned as fully as possible with its community’s values. Provost Nicole Stanton and Dean Mike Whaley have now successfully concluded their discussions with representatives of the group of protesting students and their faculty monitors.

In these meetings, the University explained that as of December 31, 2023, 1.7% of Wesleyan’s endowment was invested in companies categorized as Aerospace and Defense businesses. None are directly involved in the manufacturing of weapons. As of the same date, 0.4% of the endowment is invested in companies in Israel, all of which are software companies. The protesters did not ask for information about investments in any other countries, but we can say that Wesleyan’s endowment is not invested in any companies listed by the protesters.

Later this month representatives from the pro-Palestinian protest will meet members of the Investment Committee. In the fall, the Committee for Investor Responsibility (CIR)—a standing representative body of students, faculty, alumni, and staff—will be able to propose changes to the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework for investment/divestment for consideration by the Board at its fall meeting.

Agreement Ending Wesleyan’s Encampment

The protesters have agreed to clear their camp by Monday morning. No students will face disciplinary sanctions for being in the encampment, but after the camp is cleared normal university regulations will be enforced. The protesters agreed not to disrupt Reunion and Commencement events. Individuals who refuse to comply will be suspended and face legal action.

It is always important that we maintain a safe enough environment on campus for people who disagree with one another and who embrace opportunities to learn from people with various points of view. Yes, protests are demanding for all constituencies of a university. At their best, they help turn our attention to issues that really matter. I am hopeful that soon we can re-direct our collective efforts to urging our lawmakers, both here in Connecticut and in Washington DC, to do everything in their power to create a resolution in Israel and Gaza that will result in the return of the hostages, an end to the fighting, and a commitment to a process that will recognize the rights of all parties. More generally, I have hopes that the political energies recently displayed by our students will play a positive role in addressing the momentous questions before this country in the coming elections.


Michael S. Roth

From Climate Strike to Climate Actions

At the Climate Strike rallies last week, many Wesleyan students signed petitions with proposals very much on point. At the Board of Trustees retreat, we were briefed on some of the work that has recently been accomplished on campus to reduce our carbon footprint. Our comprehensive energy systems upgrades, for example, will offset 747 tons of carbon emissions.

Our energy improvements are a step in the right direction, but we are facing a climate emergency and need to do more. Many at the rally urged that Wesleyan reach carbon neutrality by the date of its bicentennial, 2031. This is an excellent idea but also an ambitious one. (Until now our goal has been to accomplish this by 2050.) I am asking our Sustainability Office and Physical Plant to propose practical steps that would enable the University to reach carbon neutrality by its bicentennial while preserving its educational mission. We will need input from across the University to reach this ambitious goal.

Students have also asked that the university divest from fossil fuel investments by 2031 and that we use environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in determining any new investments. I am confident that we are well on our way to doing this.

There are other things students, staff and faculty have asked that we do, such as changing how we care for campus grounds, encouraging our community to eat a more plant-based diet, reducing the number of vehicles on campus, and increasing the produce we grow here at Wes. I look forward to working together on all of these issues.

I also look forward to supporting the efforts of the College of the Environment and other groups to promote national and international policies that would reduce the release of carbon and increase the use of renewables. This includes pricing carbon generating products more appropriately and supporting the development of technologies that would reduce the price of renewables. We are a small university, but we can and will join with others to create policies to mitigate the damaging effects of this climate emergency while forcefully addressing its causes.

The climate emergency requires local action, to be sure, and it also requires national and international coalition building. Wesleyan will do its part.