Divest 5Cs Files Formal Complaint with Pomona College, Demanding an End to Investment in Fossil Fuels

By Rachel Rowlee PZ ’25

Photo from @Divest5Cs on Instagram.

The Claremont student-led movement, Divest 5Cs, filed a formal complaint to California Attorney General Rob Bonta on October 30th in collaboration with the Climate Defense Project. The complaint argues Pomona’s trustees have violated the California Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (CUPMIFA) by investing at least 60 million dollars in fossil fuel stocks. 

The 57-page complaint calls on Pomona College to join the 1,485 institutions who have divested from fossil fuels, with assets totaling over $39.2 trillion dollars as of 2021 according to the Invest-Divest 2021 report. The document contains 41 signatures from faculty members across the Claremont colleges, along with endorsements from 26 organizations.

Quoting CUPMIFA, it outlines the obligation institutions have to invest responsibly.

“‘An institution, in managing and investing an institutional fund, shall consider the charitable purposes of the institution and the purposes of the institutional fund,’” the statement reads.

Additionally, it details Pomona’s failure to follow the “duty of care” by investing money in financially risky stocks, refusing to act in good faith due to the continued dismissal of community concerns.

“This violation is exacerbated by the Board of Trustees’s failure to follow the lead of peer institutions who, in a like position under similar circumstances, have recognized the prudence of divestment,” the statement reads.

It explained the risk of fossil fuel stocks due to the growth of green technologies, the risk of flooding in industrial areas, legal risks, and numerous other factors that make stock values unstable for investment.

Ultimately, the complaint calls on Pomona to invest in alignment with its mission statement and sustainability commitment.

“From grassroots student activism to achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2030, the Pomona College community believes in doing our part to create a better future,” Pomona’s sustainability commitment reads.

Crucially, the legal complaint makes clear Pomona’s investment in fossil fuels’ role in contributing to the degradation of the environment and furthering environmental health disparities.

“Mounting evidence demonstrates that fossil fuel investments create disproportionate burdens on people of color, Indigenous communities, low-income communities, and children,” the statement reads. “Fossil fuel investments also harm the public health and property of California residents, including those in the Pomona College community, violating the Board’s duties to consider the charitable purposes of Pomona and to act with loyalty toward its community and property.”

The legal complaint concludes with a request for further investigation into Pomona’s violations of CUPMIFA, and a meeting request with the office of the attorney general. According to a post on Divest 5Cs’s Instagram page, action will continue as they pursue divestment from Pomona.

“It’s due time that Pomona discloses their endowment as much as legally possible and divest from the destruction of people and the planet,” the post reads.

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