A common argument against supporting divestment from the coal industry is that it's pointless to divest because Amherst has never done it in the past so there is no way it can work this time. In fact, Amherst has divested twice in recent history, both times in response to student movements. Below are the two instances that Amherst has divested--once from South Africa in response to the apartheid, and the other from Sudan in response to the Darfur genocide.

Divestment from South Africa

The South African apartheid in the latter half of the twentieth century inspired many American colleges and universities to divest from South Africa. In 1977, Hampshire College became the first US school to divest, inspiring a total of 155 schools--including Amherst--to divest by 1988. Amherst partially divested from South Africa from 1978 to 1986.

To see a list of the colleges that divested from South Africa, click here.

To read a recent article written by the then-president of Hampshire College about the South African divestment, click here.

Divestment from Sudan

In 2006, in response to the overwhelming evidence that the Sudanese government was committing a genocide against people in the Darfur region, the Amherst College Board of Trustees voted to "divest any direct holdings, and refrain from future direct investment, in nearly two dozen multi­national companies whose business activities have been identified as supporting the Sudanese government." The Board felt that giving money to groups that financially supported the government of Sudan was contributing to the atrocities and therefore should not continue.

To read more about the Board's decision in the Amherst Magazine, click here.

To read the Trustee's resolution on this issue from January 2006, click here.

To see a list of the 61 colleges that divested from Sudan by April 2008, click here.