Washington University Students Ask School To Divest From Fossil Fuel CompaniesBy Emily Marks
Students who are part of Fossil Free WashU, the Washington University chapter of a national Fossil Free movement, has called for the school to divest from fossil fuels. They launched an online petition last week.
Student Life reported that the group has asked Chancellor Mark Wrighton and the school's Board of Trustees to divest the university's endowment from 200 fossil fuel companies based in St. Louis. The group is also asking for all endowment investments and proxy voting to be made transparent.
The petition has been able to get more than 300 signatures since Friday. This is not the first time that Fossil Free WashU campaigned against the school's investments, though.
Two years ago, the organization urged Washington University to divest its endowments from fossil fuel companies. Its open letter stated that the group is "unsatisfied with the institution's financial support of the fossil fuel industry."
The group admitted that they cannot stand idly as their school continues to support companies that "degrade the environment, abuse human rights and worsen public health." The group has recently focused on recruitment and research.
It was revealed that the university has invested in two energy funds: Kimmeridge Energy Net Profit Fund and Foundation Energy Fund. The former is a private equity asset manager that is focused on the energy sector. The latter is the manager and operator of onshore oil and gas producing properties that acquires, exploits and develops assets on behalf of its partners.
Fossil Free WashU was able to find that 3 to 5 percent of the school's endowment is invested in fossil fuel companies. This is believed to be equal to $70 million.
Other institutions such as Stanford University, Syracuse University and Boston University have all divested from fossil fuel companies. Sophomore Peter Koulogeorge, a member of Green Action and FFWU, said that this would provide them with more opportunities to work on.
On the other hand, according to The Denver Post, the University of Denver has rejected a student-led proposal to pull investments from fossil fuel companies. However, it did approve new initiatives to improve sustainability efforts with the creation of a $5 million "green fund" which will be used to pay for solar panels, among other projects.