The Georgetown University Student Association senate passed a resolution to endorse GU Fossil Free’s proposal to mandate the university’s divestment from fossil fuels Sunday evening.
The bill passed with 17 votes to six, and GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) signed the bill Monday evening.
“I think that [the bill] lends support to what Fossil Free is going for, so now when they go and they have meetings with administrators, it’s with kind of the backing of GUSA,” Tisa said.
Ten members of GU Fossil Free attended the senate meeting and spoke about several aspects of the resolution, which was introduced by the GUSA Student Life Committee, before the floor was opened to questions and debate, primarily centered on practicality and the resolution’s effect on the university’s endowment.
Supporters of the resolution asserted that divesting would minimally impact the university’s endowment and maintain its message of social responsibility.
“One of the studies by [TheEnergyCollective.com] showed that those fund managers that divested and then reinvested in renewable energy actually cut their financial risk,” Fossil Free member Annie Wang (COL ’16) said.
Critics of the bill contended that the endowment is not a suitable financial tool for divestment.
“The endowment is primarily a financial tool used to sustain scholarships, development, initiatives on campus and research,” Senate Vice Speaker Sam Greco (SFS ’15) said. Greco added that Georgetown’s relatively low endowment would make divestment even more problematic, but others disagreed lauding the bill’s history and outside support as a sign of legitimacy.
“This isn’t something that was put together just by a bunch of students,” Student Life Committee Chairman Ben Weiss (COL ’15) said. “This is something that people who know what they’re doing and are aware of how endowments work and how funds and investments work, sat down with a group of very inspired individuals and put this proposal together.”
GU Fossil Free hopes to receive a formal endorsement of the resolution from Georgetown’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility and meet with administrators in the coming spring semester. GU Fossil Free is also planning to hold events with subject matter experts in order to cultivate financially responsible methods for divestment.GU Fossil Free members considered the bill a success and the ensuing discussion heartening.
“The amount of discourse was really encouraging because that’s what our proposal is trying to do, is promote discourse about the subject, even between both sides,” GU Fossil Free co-founder Sydney Browning (SFS ’15) said.
Supporters believe that the bill will establish a clear position in regard to the university’s outlook on social responsibility.
“It is a statement that we’re making that says Georgetown has this opinion and sees the world in this way,” Senator Jonathan Thrall (SFS ’17) said.
Hoya Staff Writer Kit Clemente contributed reporting.