On Wednesday, representatives of the LSA Student Government voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution supporting divestment from fossil-fuel-industry financial assets. Unfortunately, just one day earlier, the Central Student Government failed to pass the same resolution.
This failure highlights a serious contradiction here at our University. Michigan is a leader in climate change research and sustainability. Yet, the University directly invests in the industry most responsible for the rapid rate at which our climate is changing. Students can’t stand for this.
“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” as Bill McKibben, an environmentalist and journalist, has said. Divestment from fossil fuels is a concrete step toward moving beyond fossil fuels both here and on Capitol Hill. It sends a clear message that we will not be passive supporters of the status quo any longer.
The University is at the forefront of climate science research, with 667 faculty members across 13 schools and colleges all focusing on sustainability. Furthermore, the administration has increased its funding for sustainability research by 200 percent since 2003.
Student organizations are also at the forefront of campaigning for change. Historically, CSG has played an important role in the sustainability movement on campus. They have supported a number of issues for public transportation and water-bottle refill stations. However, these steps are not enough. The students here at the University want to see systemic changes in the way we produce and consume energy and a resolution in favor of divestment.
A tentative analysis of university investments (pending further disclosure) shows at least $900 million invested in the fossil fuel industry. This nearly billion-dollar investment completely contradicts the University’s commitment to climate science. Let’s use our University’s endowment, and the endowments of other universities, to support solutions to the crisis, and not add to the problem. As a first step, the University must disclose all current investments in the fossil fuel industry, then move to divest. It’s imperative that both the University administration and CSG take a stand for this. Furthermore, they should support more investment in sustainable sciences, technologies and economic ventures.
As students and faculty members of this great university, we cannot stand idly by and indirectly support fossil fuel investments. Our campaign asks that you get informed on the issue, start a dialogue and show your representatives how you feel about the issue. Let’s work to align our University’s investments with its core values.
This is the time to speak up. These student leaders represent us. Show your support for divestment by visiting our website (divestUM.org), signing the petition, volunteering with the campaign, signing your student organization as a coalition partner and/or voting next week for CSG candidates who strongly support sustainability and want to move forward with divestment, such many candidates running on the forUM platform. Take a stand, Michigan.
Laura Hobbs is an LSA freshman.