Georgetown University Fossil Free, a student campaign group focused on petitioning the university to divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies, has released its completed 35-page proposal. The group of about 10 students has worked on the proposal for over a year with the university’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility, professors and administrators.
According to GU Fossil Free’s media contact, Chloe Lazarus (COL ’16), the campaign hopes that CISR will approve the proposal, which can then be presented to Georgetown’s board of directors for final approval.
“We’re asking Georgetown to divest its investment in fossil fuel companies,” Lazarus said. “We’ve been working with the CISR for that amount of time as well, and they’ve been giving us tips and suggestions on how to approach this so that the board will agree to it. We’re asking them to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in socially responsible companies, and we hope this includes renewable energy companies.”
In the proposal, GU Fossil Free employs thorough research and comprehensive sourcing to outline why the university should divest from fossil fuels. According to Lazarus, divestment is a moral necessity, a financial benefit and a political tactic.
“The carbon bubble is going to burst soon, and it’s actually financially better for Georgetown to switch its investments to longer-lasting companies, rather than companies that are about to crash,” she said. “We also have such a pull with the political spectrum but also with this religious spectrum and we kind of have to use our place here to promote these kinds of things that aren’t really being focused on.”
In order to develop the proposal, GU Fossil Free enlisted the CISR for help with more technical investment terms.
“CISR has been pretty important and helpful for us being able to understand how to approach this proposal,” Lazarus said. “We don’t have a lot of professional experience with investments and so we really are thankful for CISR’s contributions on what to approach, how to approach it, how best to express that desire, but at the same time, GU Fossil Free would like to make our proposal our own.”
The Georgetown University Student Association has publicly supported GU Fossil Free’s proposal and divestment from fossil fuels since November 2013. GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) said he fully supports GU Fossil Free’s mission.
“I was able to read through the proposal, and I was incredibly impressed and won over by the objectives of the group,” Tezel said. “I had been previously, but any doubts in my mind that Georgetown should divest from fossil fuels were put to rest with that report. … In my opinion, when the time is right, I am hoping that senior university officials will take the conversation of divestment seriously and that that conversation will happen on every level, from the committee on investments of social responsibility all the way up to the university board of directors.”
If GU Fossil Free’s proposal is accepted by the board, Georgetown will join the 13 universities, including Stanford University, currently in the process of divestment from fossil fuel companies.
According to GU Fossil Free’s recent press release, GU Fossil Free hopes to see Georgetown become the first Jesuit university with an endowment exceeding $1 billion to divest from fossil fuels.
“Through divestment, Georgetown can make a strong statement… and reassert itself as a leader among our peer institutions,” Tezel said in a press release.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that GU Fossil Free suggested specific companies to the university for reinvestment. GU Fossil Free is a divestment campaign, not a reinvestment campaign, and does not suggest specific companies for reinvestment to the university.