CSG proposes committee for fossil fuel divestment

William Lynch/Daily
Third year law student Scott Bloomberg presents a resolution drafted by the Divest and Invest Coalition at the Central Student Government meeting in the CSG chambers Tuesday. Buy this photo

By Tanaz Ahmed, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 10, 2015

During the body’s first meeting after Spring Break, Central Student Government heard proposals on fossil fuel divestment, increasing off-campus lighting and the inclusion of the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy on course syllabi.

Fossil fuel

A resolution to support the formation of an ad hoc committee to determine the propriety of the University’s investments in oil and coal was proposed by CSG representative Swathi Shanmugasundaram, an LSA sophomore, and the Divest and Invest campaign, a coalition of students, faculty, staff and community members.

The purpose of the suggested committee would be to research the University’s investments and use that information to create recommendations about whether or not the University should continue to invest in fossil fuels.

Law student Scott Bloomberg, a member of Divest and Invest and one of the authors of the resolution, said campus consensus on climate change is evident based on data from the Graham Sustainability Institute as well as from faculty research and thus, it is a concern the University should address.

“The nature of oil and coal industries, products and actions of the industries are, without a doubt, antithetical to our core values of sustainability and our core academic mission,” Bloomberg said.

CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, had questions about why the formation of the ad hoc group was necessary.

“Why can’t you do this research on your own and then come back and say, ‘By doing our research, we think these specific things?’ ” Dishell asked.

Bloomberg said the committee’s research would extend beyond looking at how much the University invests in these companies.

“We’ll look at the moral and social implications of this, whether this aligns with our University values,” Bloomberg said.

He also said the University has determined its investment standards in the past for companies working with apartheid South Africa and tobacco companies in a similar manner.

According to the resolution, the committee would be similar to the Committee on Tobacco Investments, which was comprised of four professors, an undergraduate student, a graduate student, an administrator and an alum.

Off-campus lighting

In response to the Ann Arbor City Council passing a resolution to lift the moratorium on new city lighting Feb. 17, a proposal to support City Council’s resolution as well as the addition of new off-campus lighting was introduced during the CSG meeting.

The Hill, Oxford and Geddes areas were selected as the main locations of concern. CSG Vice President Emily Lustig, an LSA senior, said the locations were chosen based on safety walks, surveying students and speaking with different safety administrations.

Student Sexual Misconduct Policy

CSG considered a resolution calling for the support of the inclusion of the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy on course syllabi.

The goal of the proposal is to combat sexual misconduct on campus by making the policy more readily available to students. The resolution cannot require professors to include the policy in their syllabi, but rather recommends the language be included.

Before Spring Break, both the LSA Student Government and the Engineering Student Government passed resolutions supporting the initiative.

All three proposals were referred to the resolutions committee and will be voted on during the next CSG meeting.