Gonzaga Student Body Association Supports Divestment

gsba1.PNGThis is the speech given by the Gonzaga Student Body Association Sustainability Chair, Anna Belinski, in support of the Student Divestment Policy at the Board of Trustees’ ESG Task Force Listening Session.

“I am here representing the Gonzaga Student Body Association as the Sustainability Chair. My position was created two years ago in response to the growing environmental movement on campus. My role includes overseeing the Green Fund, helping to increase environmental awareness across campus and continuing past GSBA environmental initiatives. The need for such a role within GSBA speaks to the importance of sustainability to our student body. University wide, this voice is being heard and changes are being made along many avenues, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

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Images: Examples of some current sustainability initiatives at Gonzaga University, many of which were Green Fund projects.

Last May, GSBA passed a resolution stating its support in the Student Divestment Policy, requesting that Gonzaga University’s Board of Trustees commit to divest Gonzaga’s endowment from the current 200 most carbon-intensive companies by the year 2020. This policy was passed by a resounding majority with 22 of the 25 senators voting in favor of the Divestment Policy and 2 abstains. The resolution states that in divesting our endowment, Gonzaga “will formally recognize the reality and urgency of the climate crisis and show fidelity to our Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic mission and to our endowment Investment Policy and Guidelines.”

The Gonzaga Student Body Association mission states that we will “support and advocate for our fellow students, while providing the opportunity for experiences which inspire Zags to live extraordinary lives as men and women for others.” This Divestment Policy falls directly in line with our mission at GSBA. Our job is to advocate for fellow students, and as such, it is right that we would support a policy advocating for the betterment of our planet and hold our university to its moral standards, in turn benefiting the current and future lives of all Gonzaga students, investors, and alum. Our job as GSBA is also to provide opportunities for Zags to fulfill our mission and get involved with sustainability. And the Divestment Policy is doing just that. This movement is inspiring for students across campus, whether they are already in support of this action or just hearing about it from the outreach the Divestment Student Group has worked hard on. These students are already living lives as extraordinary people fighting to protect their fellow students and planet, and in turn pushing the university and those within to do the same.

This divestment resolution confirms our student commitment to “care for creation” and encourages students to live lives for others, which includes lives lived for our planet. GSBA as an organization echoes the decision of our senators in voting to divest the endowment from these carbon-intensive companies by 2020; the moral and ethical importance of working to rescue our planet in need, as well as the clear financial ramifications of continuing our investments, provide ample reason for our university to work toward following its mission statement in all aspects and avenues. Thank you for your time and willingness to hear our concerns and take our input seriously. I am excited to see how Gonzaga will continue to progress toward an environmentally responsible university and help lead the way to a sustainable future.”

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A student letter to Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees

Dear Board of Trustees and ESG Task force members,

In October of last school year, I had the pleasure of attending a student dinner with members of the Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees. I would like to thank you all for taking the time to be there because, as a student, it was nice to finally have a few faces and names to associate with the Board of Trustees, a group we often hear about but rarely have the opportunity to interact with. At the dinner, chairman Scott Morris thanked students for our involvement with the university and encouraged us to come to the boards with any questions, requests, or concerns that we may have in regarding the university. That is why I am writing to you today. As a senior environmental studies and psychology student with multiple science, environmental, and ethics classes now under my belt I am deeply concerned by what is arguably the biggest problem facing my generation: Climate change. While this issue is complex, a key component of the problem is the rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide which primarily occurs from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. To avoid catastrophic climate change, the majority of fossil fuel reserves that we have access to must not be consumed. Aside from causing harm to the planet, the effects of climate change brought on by the burning of fossil fuels harm the poor and the vulnerable disproportionately as they are the least able to adapt to severe storms and environmental changes. That is why I am deeply troubled by the investment of Gonzaga University’s endowment in fossil fuel stocks. Institutions of higher education, particularly Jesuit universities such as our own, are grounded in solidarity, social justice, service to others, and commitment to humanistic education on the natural and social world through the sciences. As a Jesuit University committed to said values, we are morally and ethically obligated to divest our endowments from all fossil fuel stocks because to profit from their returns is to profit from the harm of others and our shared planet, which grossly contradicts our mission.

The Gonzaga University mission statement alone provides sufficient reasoning as to why we should divest our holdings from fossil fuel stocks. The mission statement begins by stating that the university, “Educates students for lives of leadership and service for the common good,” (Gonzaga). While the common good may also mean the financial prosperity of communities, it most often refers to the health and well-being of all people. Catholic Social Teaching maintains that this includes commitment to human rights, option for the poor and vulnerable, solidarity throughout the human family, and care for creation (USCCB). The mission statement goes on to explicitly express commitment to each of these values, as well to the cultivation of ethical discernment and critical thought within students. Finally, this mission is intended to be carried out, “With responsible stewardship of our physical, financial, and human resources,” (Gonzaga). In the past, the university has sought to better uphold this mission and increase its commitment to socially responsible investing (SRI) by divesting funds from companies associated with business in South Africa, in order to dismantle the unethical system of apartheid. Recognizing that this system of racial discrimination did not align with university commitment to equality, human rights, and solidarity, students advocated for immediate divestment and, after much petitioning and debate, their requests were eventually granted. While the issue is different today, myself and many of my fellow students are now asking that the same thing be done again. Climate change may not be as immediately visible as the blatant racism associated with apartheid, but it negatively affects an even broader array of people and species. If we continue along our current trajectory, climate change will result in massive biodiversity loss, as well as increased incidence of drought, flooding, famine, and severe storms, all of which we have already begun to see. Destroying the health of the planet and displacing the most vulnerable members of the human community stands in direct opposition to our commitment to care for creation, and solidarity and social justice.

University commitment to ethical discernment within students provides additional grounds for divestment from fossil fuel companies, as much of the industry’s profits are made from unethical actions. Basic utilitarian ethics dictates that it is unethical to cause harm or suffering to any moral patient without sufficient justifiable cause. The burning of hydrocarbons by fossil fuel corporations has already increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and global surface temperatures enough to cause a rise in sea level, increased severity of storms including flooding, hurricanes and wildfires, all of which displace humans and other species alike, increased social and political unrest due to heightened water scarcity, and species extinction due to changing climate and habitat loss, (Houghton). Each of these outcomes either directly or indirectly causes harm to people across the globe. Additionally, reparations for the harm that results from the pollution caused by fossil fuels companies are rarely, if ever, made as such costs are externalized by the companies in effort to increase their own profit margins. Externalizing costs of pollution, including the costs to human health, means the fossil fuel corporations are able to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and, thus, cannot be held accountable. Author and activist Bill McKibben is often credited with beginning fossil fuel divestment campaign and has, now famously, been quoted saying that,

“If it is wrong to wreak the climate, then it is wrong to profit from the wreckage,” (McKibben, 2013).

This is exactly what fossil fuel corporations do, and by investing in their stocks our university ends up profiting from the wreckage as well. It is absurdly hypocritical to maintain that Gonzaga is cultivating ethical discernment in students while simultaneously supplementing the cost of their education with money gained from investments in corporations that are engaged in unethical actions.

Gonzaga University is further obligated to divest from fossil fuel stocks as it is morally inconsistent to assert that we stand in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable while simultaneously profiting from investments in corporations whose actions cause them a disproportionate amount of harm. While industrialized nations will be able to use technology and wealth to adjust to changing environmental conditions and can afford to rebuild after devastation by natural disasters, developing nations will not have the same luxury. In his Encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis describes how many of the poor throughout the world live in areas that are the most drastically affected by climate change and rely heavily on the natural environment for subsistence through hunting, gathering, and agriculture. As a result, destruction of ecosystems severely impacts the health and livelihood of vulnerable communities within the affected area. Pope Francis elaborates on this by saying,

They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation.

If racial segregation and discrimination provided enough ground for divestment in the past, surely contributing to the direct physical, social, and economic harm of entire communities across the globe provides enough ground to divest from fossil fuel companies today. Not divesting from institutions that are causing such environmental degradation also says that we are indifferent to the suffering of our human brothers and sisters. It is not enough to simply make charitable contributions. To be truly committed to solidarity with the poor and vulnerable we must work for solutions that will deconstruct the systems that cause them harm in the first place, instead of,

“Masking the problems or concealing their symptoms,” (Francis).

Divesting from fossil fuel stocks is an important step in achieving this goal and shows that Gonzaga is truly committed to the values that it professes.

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, Gonzaga University is morally obligated to divest its endowment from fossil fuel stocks because care for the planet is explicitly included in our mission statement. It is known that the burning of hydrocarbon fuels releases excessive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, and it is known that increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 results in the “greenhouse effect,” causing increased average global surface temperatures.  Failure to uphold this environmental ethic that we have committed ourselves to ultimately places the university in a state of moral inconsistency.  In fact, since the industrial revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has, “Increased the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere by more than one-third, from around 280 ppm in 1700 to more than 400 ppm in 2014,” (Henning).  Additionally, climate scientists estimate that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 would need to remain below 400ppm to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius for this century (Houghton). Beyond two degrees of warming scientists predict that crops will become less productive, the number of people living in severely stressed river basins will double, sea levels will rise by at least 3 ft., coastal wetlands important for flood control will be lost, severity of storms will increase with each additional degree, and roughly 30% of known species will become extinct (Houghton). We have already observed this directly throughout the past year. Abnormally heavy rains and snowfall caused deadly avalanches in Afghanistan, severe flooding in Peru, China, South East Asia and Sri Lanka, landslides in Sierra Leon, Columbia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unusually warm ocean temperatures created cyclones that battered communities in Zimbabwe and throughout the Southern Hemisphere. They also caused the devastating hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the latter two being category five storms that caused an estimated $160 billion dollars in damages and 210 fatalities (Duncan). Abnormally dry and hot conditions throughout the western United States has led to an increase in the number of large forest fires, many of which have occurred at the urban interface. This year, to date, there have been 49,032 separate forest fires in the United States and roughly 8,446,055 acres have been burned. Even with unseasonably early snow beginning to fall throughout the west, 23 large fires remain uncontained (NIFC). If we are to have any hope of decreasing the frequency and severity of such natural disasters, we must make serious efforts to reduce our carbon emissions. To keep the average global surface temperature below 2 degrees Celsius of warming, we must keep at least 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground (McKibben, 2016). To continue to invest in fossil fuel corporations is to invest in the exploitation of these reserves and all the negative effects that doing so will inevitably cause. Divesting the university endowment is absolutely necessary to avoid moral inconsistency and uphold our environmental ethic of promoting care for the planet.

Gonzaga University prides itself on community and cultivating a student body that is committed to service for the common good. The university mission statement dictates our commitment to Catholic Social Teachings and is implemented into nearly every aspect of curriculum. However, Gonzaga contradicts its own commitment to said values by investing a portion of its endowment into fossil fuel stock. Fossil fuel corporations cause direct harm to our shared environment, and the people most dependent upon it, by burning hydrocarbon fuels. How can we as a Jesuit institution, which mandates that students take philosophy courses such as critical thinking and ethics, knowingly invest into corporations that are hurting our world in such drastic ways? As long as Gonzaga has funds invested in hydrocarbon stocks the university remains hypocritical. To outwardly express commitment to cultivating certain values within students and simultaneously engage in contradictory behavior is unethical and woefully inconsistent. With that in mind, my fellow students and I implore that members of the Board of Trustees and the ESG task force take immediate action to begin divesting Gonzaga University’s endowment from all fossil fuel stocks, and cease any further investments. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope and pray that you carefully consider this request.

Sincerely,

Johnna C. Coughlin
Class of 2017

Works Cited

Duncan, Scott. “World weatherwatch: hurricanes, wildfires – and early snow.” The Guardian. September 24, 2017. Accessed September 28, 2017.

Francis, Pope. Laudato si: On care for our common home. Our Sunday Visitor, 2015.

“Gonzaga University Mission Statement.” Issuu. Gonzaga University Office of Mission, Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Henning, Brian G. “Understanding the Science of Climate Change.” Riders in the Storm: Ethics in an Age of Climate Change. N.p.: Anselm Academic, 2015. 57. Print.

Houghton, John Theodore. Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. Cambridge: Cambridge U, 2015. Print.

McKibben, Bill. “Bill McKibben’s Speech at the Sophie Prize Awards Ceremony, Oslo, Norway.” Sophie Prize Awards Ceremony. Oslo, Norway. 2013. Speech.

McKibben, Bill. “Why We Need to Keep 80% of Fossil Fuels in the Ground.” 350.org. 350.org, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

National Interagency Fire Center. September 26, 2017. Accessed September 28, 2017. https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm

USCCB. “Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching.” Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

ESG Task Force Listening Session

Gonzagas Fossil Free campaign is excited to report on the latest development in the ongoing process that will hopefully lead to Gonzagas divestment of the 200 most carbon intensive companies. A group of five students from the student divestment group, including myself, were able to participate in a listening session on Gonzagas campus with the five members of the new ESG Task Force. This session took place last week, on Thursday morning, where members of the Gonzaga community had the opportunity to listen and present to the group. Our group decided to focus on the history of the movement on campus, to show the Task Force members how much time and research has been devoted to this movement.

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In our presentation, we also decided to focus on the morality that drives the desire to divest from fossil fuels. By first focusing on Gonzagas mission statement, we explained how we, as students living the mission, intend to uphold what it says seriously. The aim to divest from fossil fuels stems from our belief that this mission, which serves the common good, is true and valid.

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We highlighted the roots of the Jesuit mission as well, which also aims for betterment of the world and care for the vulnerable. Our argument specifies how investing in companies that profit from the destruction fossil fuels brings is at odds with this mission. By attending this school, we aim to live as champions of the poor and protectors of the planets finite resources.

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This presentation allowed us to show members of the Board of Trustees what it means for us to be Gonzaga students and why we were compelled to push for this resolution. It gave us a platform for a genuine dialogue with those who have the means to institute the change we ask for. It was very helpful for us to meet with them, as well as hear from presenters who opened the floor to differing viewpoints on this subject.

Moving forward, the student group hopes to continue to work with the ESG Task Force and be included in their research findings. We hope to work more to create awareness for this issue and in doing so, learn more about all sides of the debate. As students, we are thankful to have achieved something so monumental and can only hope for on going discussion as we continue to work towards divestment.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Urgency of Fossil Fuel Divestment

In 2012 Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the commencement speaker at Gonzaga’s graduation ceremony and was awarded an honorary degree. In accepting the invitation, Tutu said, ““I am always inspired and awed by the idealism and altruism of young people.” More…

As Tutu explains in the short video below, there is a moral line connecting the Apartheid divestment movement of the 1980s and the fossil fuel divestment today. We must have the courage of our convictions and stop seeking to profit from the sale of the fuels driving climate change. Just as we divested from the racist Apartheid government after a four year campaign by Gonzaga students, Gonzaga should divest our endowment from fossil fuels. We should take the advice of our fellow Zag, Desmond Tutu, and invest in a clean energy future and divest from fossil fuels.

Board to form ESG Task Force

In a recent letter to employees (09/15/2017) regarding University sustainability efforts, Gonzaga President McCulloh addressed the issue of endowment investments. He writes:

Evaluating how best to broaden an ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance considerations] investing platform is no easy task.  It requires thoughtful consideration and discernment as to how best to maximize the endowment’s investment performance while incorporating decisions based on ESG factors.  Having said that, the Investment Committee of the Board — informed by the assessment referenced above — has already divested itself of a specific fund which in turn has reduced the University’s investments in a major international holder of fossil fuel reserves.

In response to the interest and concern of the community, particularly the Fossil Free Gonzaga campaign, the University is pursuing a number of actions. The one most relevant to the Fossil Free Gonzaga campaign is the formation of an “ESG Task Force” of the Investment Committee of the Board “to explore options and identify ways to further the University’s commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations as outlined in the Investment Policy and Guidelines for the Endowment Fund and informed by the University’s Mission Statement.” This group will work throughout this academic year.

Although the charge of the group does not directly address or speak to fossil fuel divestment, it is hope that their work will nevertheless touch on this work. One of its first activities will be to conduct a “listening session” with community members.

The first Listening Session is scheduled for Thursday, September 28, from 8am to 10am in Hemmingson 312 (Firenze). Members of the Gonzaga Community (current students, faculty, and staff) are invited to attend and participate in a number of ways.

Please sign-up via email smithj@gonzaga.edu and indicate if you are a group/individual and time preferences. Best efforts will be made to accommodate all requests. The deadline is Friday, September 22. Space may be limited. Groups/individuals are encouraged to sign up prior to this deadline.

FFG takes great pride in the fact that, thanks to its two-year effort the University is, for the first time, seriously reflecting on the meaning of its longstanding ESG policy. This is real and potentially meaningful progress! However, it is not yet committing to take up the divestment resolution passed by the the GSBA and supported by hundreds of students and faculty. We need to keep up the pressure. If you are able to attend even a portion of the “listening session” please do so! We are moving the needle. Let’s keep up the pressure.

 

Gonzaga Divestment Campaign – Spring 2017 Update

IceAs we come to the end of the academic year I wanted to write to update you on the status of the fossil fuel divestment campaign.

Lest I bury the lead, I’ll say right up front that the biggest news is that Monday, May 1 the Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA) Senate voted nearly unanimously (only one “no” vote) in favor of the fossil fuel divestment resolution!

Resolution: We request that Gonzaga University’s Board of Trustees commit by 2020 to divest Gonzaga’s endowment from the current 200 most carbon-intensive companies. Doing so will formally recognize the reality and urgency of the climate crisis and show fidelity to our Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic mission and to our endowment Investment Policy and Guidelines. (See justification here.)

Join me in congratulating the student activists from GEO who have dedicated countless hours to researching and advocating for this measure. They are motivated because they believe in what Gonzaga says it stands for: “The Gonzaga experience fosters a mature commitment to dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, global engagement, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet.”

Remembering the context of the debate:

Latest NOAA Assessment:

  • The March temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.89°F above the 20th century average of 54.9°F. This was the second highest for March in the 138-year period of record, behind 2016 by 0.32°F.
    • This was the first time the monthly temperature departure from average surpassed 1.80°F (1.0°C) in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
  • The March globally averaged land surface temperature was 3.56°F above the 20th century average of 40.8°F. This value was also the second highest March land global temperature in the 1880–2017 record, trailing 2016 by 0.68°F.
    • March 2017 had the highest monthly global land temperature departure from average of any month since March 2016 and the third highest land monthly temperature departure among all months (1,647) on record.
  • The March globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.28°F above the 20th century monthly average of 60.7°F—the second highest global ocean temperature for March in the record, behind the record year 2016 by 0.18°F.
    • This was the highest global ocean temperature departure from average since October 2016 (+1.30°F).

Fossil Free Gonzaga student campaign

  • The students of the Fossil Free Gonzaga campaign hosted two lectures this year with the support of the Office of Sustainability and the President’s Office. You can find the lectures online here:
  • The students have also collected 360 signatures in support of divestment. More here.
  • As mentioned at the top, the students created a fossil fuel divestment resolution and justification and submitted it to the Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA). After having been approved by the relevant subcommittee, it was then voted on by the GSBA Senate and was approved at their May 1 meeting. According to the GSBA Speaker of the Senate Nick Ramos, the vote tally was 22 yes, 1 no, 2 abstain.

Fossil Free Gonzaga faculty campaign

  • The faculty campaign crafted a fossil fuel divestment resolution and justification, which can found here.
  • To date, 144 individual faculty (approximately 33%) have added their signature in support of the resolution. See the list here.
  • The faculty leaders of the divestment campaign met individually with many faculty senators and made a presentation to the full faculty senate.
  • The faculty fossil fuel divestment resolution is on the Senate’s agenda, but it is unlikely that it will be able to take up the issue in its last meeting of this academic year. It will remain on the Faculty Senate’s agenda be taken up in the fall.

Administration response

  • President McCulloh signed on behalf of Gonzaga a letter to President Trump and the new Congress. A copy is here. It urged:
    • Participation in the Paris Agreement, with the resulting national carbon reduction and clean energy targets, to protect the health of our current communities and our future generations.
    • Research in our academic institutions and in federal agencies to ensure that our national climate, energy, and security policies are based on leading scientific and technical knowledge.
    • Investments in the low carbon economy as part of a resilient infrastructure to ensure the country can adapt to changing climate hazards. These investments will also help grow American jobs and businesses.
  • At the urging of the faculty and student divestment campaigns, the Gonzaga Board of Trustees paid for an “Endowment Fossil Fuel Exposure” analysis, the results of which were shared by Associate VP for Finance Joe Smith at two open meetings in February.
    • The analysis revealed that 4.4% of the analyzed endowment holdings are in fossil fuels (.5% in thermal coal; 3.3% in natural gas; 3.4% in oil).
    • Though a small portion of the endowment, given that these fossil fuel holdings are often held in mutual funds, eliminating these fossil fuel holdings would require dropping some funds, thereby affecting a larger percentage of the whole.

The History of Divestment at Gonzaga

  • With the help of a student, I collected Bulletin coverage four year push by students in the 1980s to convince the administration to divest from Apartheid South Africa. The Board of Trustees initially voted against divestment and only agreed after student protests grew. We were on the right side of history then, hopefully the same will be true now. The history of the current movement and the movement from the 1980s can be found here.
  • You may know of Archbishop Desmond Tutu–whom you might recall Gonzaga recently recognized with an honorary degree—played a significant role in ending Apartheid in South Africa. This 3-minute video by Tutu links the divestment movement in the 80s to the current fossil fuel divestment movement: http://divestinvest.org/individual/desmond-tutu-on-climate-change/

 Fall 2017 Divestment Event

  • There is broad and deep support for Gonzaga to divest. Some of the lingering concerns are financial in nature. To help continue the work of informing the community, the Environmental Studies Department, the School of Business Administration, and the Fossil Free Gonzaga campaigns will host an expert on finance to discuss the divestment from a financial point of view.

“Gonzaga Divestment Perspectives”, Randy Cerf, Financial Advisor, Waddell and Reed, Seattle
Wolff Auditorium, September 19, 2017, 5:30-7:00
Sponsors: Environmental Studies Department; School of Business Administration; Fossil Free Gonzaga
FB Event page

Abstract: Rather than focus on the moral or political rationale for fossil fuel divestment  I will focus on the economics and practical challenges.   I will attempt to address common finance committee level concerns that are commonly raised about divestment in a balanced way.  I would anticipate answering these three questions:

  • Is Fossil Fuel Divestment likely to make a material difference to portfolio performance?  Let’s keep perspective on the very limited aggregate performance differences relative to the massive uncertainty about the performance of the broader markets. And let’s keep perspective on strategies to manage or take advantage of any modest performance differences.
  • Will Fossil Free Divestment Be Good or Bad for Portfolio Performance?  The punch line:  there will be differences in performance but they will likely be very modest and it is unknowable whether they will help or hurt performance.  Most divestment opponents raise legitimate concerns about the superior historical returns of the energy sector (until about 10 years ago), the impact of reduced diversification, transaction costs and ongoing costs.  I will demonstrate the irrelevance of historical returns to future expectations, explore the importance of efficient market theory, examine the risk implications of divestment and burrow into transaction and ongoing costs.
  • What are some of the less obvious issues that need to be considered? Divestment raises a host of management and philosophical questions.

 

 

 

 

Gonzaga Student Gov Votes for Divestment

With near-unanimous vote in favor of divestment, pressure is growing on administration to do the right thing.

Student Divestment Leaders
Students leaders of the Fossil Free Gonzaga campaign with K.C. Golden, 350.org Board Chair, after his presentation 12.01.2016

May 2, 2017

GONZAGA UNIVERSITY STUDENT BODY ASSOCIATION VOTES FOR FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University Student Body Association (GSBA) Senate voted nearly unanimously in favor of the Fossil Free Gonzaga divestment resolution, with only a single “no” vote. The resolution reads:

“We request that Gonzaga University’s Board of Trustees commit by 2020 to divest Gonzaga’s endowment from the current 200 most carbon-intensive companies. Doing so will formally recognize the reality and urgency of the climate crisis and show fidelity to our Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic mission and to our endowment Investment Policy and Guidelines.”

According to the GSBA Speaker of the Senate, the official vote was 22 yes, 1 no, 2 abstain. The official GSBA Resolution (Bill: SRSD050129) can be found here.

The Fossil Free Gonzaga divestment student group is a subcommittee of the Gonzaga Environmental Organization (GEO) student club, which has campaigned for two years to get to this point. Hundreds of students and alumni signed a petition in support of the resolution.

“We are trying to make substantial change,” GEO Vice President Carrie Herrman said. “We’re a Jesuit, service-oriented school. I think people like to take pride in that aspect of the university. [Fossil fuel divestment is] just one more reason to say, ‘This is something we can do and be proud of.’ Making any effort to limit the effects that humans have on climate change is a step toward tangible social justice.”

The fossil fuel divestment resolution is also being advanced by a parallel campaign among faculty. To date, one-third of Gonzaga faculty (133) have signed in support of the resolution.

Divestment itself is not new to GU.  A previous campaign to divest from apartheid swept the campus a generation ago.

For more information on the Fossil Free Gonzaga campaign, contact Professor Brian Henning at (509) 313-5885 or henning@gonzaga.edu..

More on the resolution and its justification here.

For a timeline of divestment work at Gonzaga go here.