We were grateful for the opportunity to productively engage with the Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility on March 20, 2019, regarding our most recent proposal. The meeting included a fruitful discussion that encouraged us to think creatively about the execution of our proposal’s second objective of divestment within a five-year timeline. After reflecting on the committee members’ feedback, we submitted the following memo to the committee chair, Jim Feinerman, on Thursday, March 28.
This memo describes our four-step strategy for Georgetown to divest from fossil fuels by 2024. This memo hinges upon the creation of “Clean Energy Standards,” which we base on a credible scorecard system by the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as a working group to look at the fossil fuel companies in our investment portfolio and assign scores. The plan encourages Georgetown to divest from companies who do not meet our standards. With this plan, Georgetown could engage with a select group of companies that are committed to climate honesty and incorporating more renewable energy into their businesses, while also divesting from companies that do not align with our values.
The memo also proposes engaging with Georgetown’s peer higher education institutions to form a coalition built on the notion of engagement over this five-year timeline.
Any input from the community on this proposed strategy or the content of our January proposal can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. All members of the Georgetown community are invited to learn more about this campaign and join our efforts by attending GU Fossil Free’s weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 9 pm in ICC 217A.
GU Fossil Free Ready to Submit Final Divestment Proposal
After a year and a half of campaigning, Georgetown University Fossil Free (GUFF), a student campaign focused on divestment of the GU endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies, has released its final proposal. The new proposal is a product of extended conversations with students, administrators, alumni, faculty, and the University’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility (CISR), to which GU Fossil Free first presented in May 2013. As a response to the concerns of many in the campus community, the 35-page long document debuts a detailed financial section that not only shows the implications of divestment to the endowment to be negligible, but argues extensively that carbon risk provides a sound financial rationale in favor of the endowment’s long-term profitability. In addition to this, the proposal makes clear Georgetown’s moral obligation to divest as both a Catholic and Jesuit university.
“Finalizing this document is a crucial step forward for our campaign, and one that will enable our advancement into the next stage of the University’s formal process for considering such proposals,” says Daniel Dylewsky (COL ‘15), a co-founder and member of GU Fossil Free. Approval from the CISR would allow the divestment proposal to pass to the University’s Board of Directors, the body ultimately responsible for making the decision to divest. “We look forward to the opportunity to bring our requests before the Board of Directors in the coming academic year,” says Dylewsky.
Since its founding in December 2012, the campaign has built relationships with students at the Law Center, has gathered support and petition signatures from main, law, and medical campus faculty and alumni, and has brought GU staff into its membership. In November 2013, GUSA passed a resolution supporting GUFF’s proposal for divestment, pledging student government backing and involvement. In order to build further support, the campaign has also opened up a “donors for divestment” portal on its webpage where supporters can pledge donations to Georgetown University. Supporters commit to releasing these funds to the University only after its commitment to divest is made public.
GU Fossil Free also counts on the support of the current GUSA executive. “As a religious, economic and social justice issue, the time to act is now,” said Trevor Tezel (SFS ‘15), current GUSA President. “Through divestment, Georgetown can make a strong statement […] and reassert itself as a leader among our peer institutions,” said Tezel. In fact, as the movement to divest builds momentum on college campuses across the nation, Georgetown has the opportunity to become the first Jesuit university, as well as the first university with an endowment over $1 billion, to fully divest. By doing so and following both its Jesuit and environmental commitments, GUFF hopes that Georgetown can stand as a leader for institutions of similar means and influence.
So far 13 colleges and universities in the US have agreed to take their funds out of fossil fuel-related investments. This list includes Stanford University, which in May committed to ending direct investments of its endowment in coal mining companies. These represent half the company’s on GUFF’s list.
With the start of the new academic year, GUFF plans to submit its proposal to the CISR for final review in hopes that it will be passed on to and implemented by the GU Board of Directors. GUFF plans to continue its student outreach at several events in September, including student group fairs. GU Fossil Free meetings are open to the public and held every Thursday at 8pm in ICC Galleria. Their first meeting will be Aug. 28.
Media contact: Chloe Lazarus (email@example.com)