Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

OP-ED: Penn Must Divest From the Fossil Watch Industry


Photo by Jan-Willem Reusink / CC-BY-2.0

Penn, it’s time for a wake up call. The University Board of Trustees voted today to not divest from the Fossil watch industry. This means your tuition dollars continue to support the proliferation of gaudy, passé timepieces.

The University’s ballooning endowment is built on this unconscionable industry. 41 percent of Penn’s $10.7 billion endowment is invested in Fossil timepieces. That’s $4.3 billion, or about 21 million overpriced Fossil watches.

Students have repeatedly voiced their discontent, but the Board of Trustees continue to ignore their voices. Fossil Watch Free Penn gathered more than 5000 signatures on their last petition calling for the school to remove holdings from the Fossil company. The Board of Trustees effectively threw the petition in their faces, writing that “Fossil watches are effortlessly stylish and look good with almost any outfit.”

In effect, our Board of Trustees are a puppet for the Fossil watch industry. It must hurt to have a hand up your backside and controlling your mouth, especially if that hand is wearing an oversized and flashy Fossil watch.

Even faculty are calling for divestment. A 2011 study by two Penn economists found that “Fossil watches make you look like a tool” and determined that those who wear them are “pretty lame.” Inspired by this study, more than 200 Penn professors signed a letter in support of Fossil Watch Free Penn.

The University is clearly falling behind its peers on this issue. Two years ago, Brown completely divested from Fossil watches. Then, they reinvested those funds in the clean watch industry, focusing on modern Scandinavian brands such as Swatch and Skagen. These watches have been proven to have 60 percent cleaner lines than Fossil.

Imagine how good Brown must feel, knowing they did their part to rid our planet of bad watches and replace them with sleek, stylish ones. How can we attract top talent to our school if the world thinks we’re all wearing bad watches with cluttered faces and cheap bands?

Our community has recognized Fossil watches as one of the worst accessories of our time. But we must rinse Penn’s hands of them. As long as we continue to invest in Fossil watches, we tacitly endorse these heinous accessories. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is.