Since the beginning of last year, Stop Funding Climate Change (SFCC) has been working tirelessly to promote divestment as a means for the University to address the global issue of climate change. The 70 percent of students who voted yes for divestment on the referendum last spring reflected widespread support for taking action.
Since the summer, SFCC members have been working to compose a proposal detailing the components of divestment and its potential impacts on the University and fossil fuel companies. This proposal will eventually be presented to the Board of Trustees, but a significant barrier inhibiting this step is the lack of transparency regarding the University’s investments. We hope that the leadership conversation with Nim Chinniah, executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer, and Mark Schmid, vice president and chief investment officer, this Thursday will be an opportunity to establish an open dialogue with the administration, which will encourage such transparency.
We believe that the University needs to consider its responsibility as a member of the global community rather than as an insular entity, but we also recognize the need to represent the University’s individual interests. Although studies have revealed the economic viability of divestment in general, it is necessary for us to compose a plan that incorporates the investments specific to the University. Without details of the University’s investments, we are inherently limited in our ability to assess the results of divestment. In light of this, it is only through an open collaboration between the student body and the Board that divestment can be accomplished.
As our community moves forward in considering divestment, it is critical that we consider all of its implications. It would be imprudent to ignore the potential short-term costs of divestment for the University, and perhaps would be misguided were there no immediate effects on climate change. However, to solely consider divestment’s short-term effects would leave us ignorant of what divestment is in the long-term: an investment. It is an investment in the prosperity of not only the world as a whole but in the prosperity of our community, one that will ensure our ability to enjoy the quality of life we possess now. There is no question that the security of our community is a fundamental consideration for the University, and consequently the long-term implications of divestment must be evaluated—not just the immediate effects.