GU Fossil Free releases final divestment proposal
Last Tuesday, Georgetown Univeristy Fossil Free (GUFF) released its final divestment proposal. The 35-page document is the result of a year-and-a-half long campaign that focused on divestment of the GU endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
Founded in December of 2012, the campaign is a combined effort of students, alumni, faculty, and staff that addresses the multiple viewpoints within the collective University.
“The cooperation and collaboration of the entire Georgetown community was crucial in GU Fossil Free’s ability to compile our final proposal,” Chloe Lazarus (COL ’16), one of the core members of the team, said in an interview with Vox. “Our campaign is not isolated; it has been important for us to incorporate the concerns and suggestions of a diverse array of voices on campus.”
In November of last year, the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) passed a resolution pledging its support for the divestment campaign.
“GUSA, as a representative body for the students, was one of the best ways for GU Fossil Free to understand and include the opinions of the entire student body,” Lazarus said. “In the process of doing that, GUSA’s support for our proposal allowed us to better publicize our campaign in a way that we normally may not be able to do by reaching a wider group of students as well as faculty and staff.”
The proposal outlines numerous reasons why the University should divest in fossil fuels, including a detailed financial component that demonstrates how divestment of the endowment is negligible as well as an emphasis on Georgetown’s ethical responsibility.
“One of these reasons [to divest] is because Georgetown is a Jesuit university, and we feel Georgetown is morally obligated not to invest or profit off of a system that is structurally unjust,” Lazarus said. “As the first Jesuit university, Georgetown would influence other religious institutions to reanalyze their investments and lead to further fossil fuel divestment campaigns.”
Georgetown also has the opportunity to be the first university with an endowment over $1 billion to fully divest. Lazarus told Vox that GU Fossil Free is hopeful that the University can serve as a leader for institutions of similar means and influence by staunchly holding to its Jesuit and environmental commitments. Presently, 13 colleges and universities within the United States—including Pitzer and Stanford—have agreed to withdraw their financial support from fossil fuel-related investments.
“As a well-known institution, Georgetown is in the fortunate position of being able to use its endowment in a way that is influential for moral, social justice, and Jesuit reasons,” Lazarus said. “Divestment is a way for our campus to succeed in two ways: within Georgetown by having the University stand out as a leader among other academic institutions, as well as throughout the world promoting sustainability and social justice.”
GU Fossil Free plans to submit its proposal to the Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility for final review at the start of this academic year so the plan can be subsequently reviewed and implemented by the GU Board of Directors. The group also plans to continue its outreach at several events in September—including student group fairs—and meetings are open to the public and held every Thursday at 8:00 p.m. in the ICC Galleria.
Photo: Georgetown University Fossil Free via WordPress