Georgetown opts for partial divestment, will end investments in coal

This morning, Georgetown’s Board of Directors voted to end the university’s direct investments of endowment funds to companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy production. They additionally encouraged their external investment managers, who manage various funds that own a wide range of securities, to follow suit.

The resolution is the largely the product of the work of Georgetown University Fossil Free (GUFF), whose campaign to petition the university to end investments in all fossil fuel companies began about two years ago. On August 19, 2014, the group published a proposal titled “Divesting Georgetown’s Endowment from Fossil Fuels,” which spelled out their position on Georgetown’s need to act on divestment and attempted to alleviate the universities concerns about its impact on the endowment.

In January, the Committee on Investment and Social Responsibility voted against the proposal, instead calling for targeted divestment from coal along with shareholder engagement and collaboration with other universities and nonprofits.

Since then, the group has engaged more members of the Board of Directors in conversations about divestment, in addition to reaching out to more members of the Georgetown community. On March 19, three GUFF members held up a banner on the Gaston Hall stage during an event featuring World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim to garner more visibility for their campaign, before being escorted off stage. On April 15, the group released a faculty letter in support of full divestment which has been signed by over 110 Georgetown professors. In the days leading up to the decision, members of GUFF tabled outside of the Board’s meeting in the South Gallery hallway of the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, waiting for the decision.

“While a tiny step in the right direction, GU Fossil Free is greatly disappointed in the decision” the group said Thursday afternoon in a post on their Facebook page. In a statement released later on their website, the group maintains that the decision, while an encouraging first step, is not a victory.

“It is evident that the university made its decisions for mostly financial and public relations reasons,” they wrote. “If the Board had made their decision for principally moral reasons, buy generic propecia from both direct and commingled funds from coal, oil and gas companies.”

The president and vice president of the Georgetown University Student Association, Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Connor Rohan (COL ’16) praised the decision, but still echoed GUFF’s sentiments that more divestment needs to happen.

“This decision is in direct alignment with student interests and was made possible thanks to a strong group of student advocates,” Rohan said. “[But] their work is not yet done.”

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