Students at St. Mary’s College and members of SEAC have begun an initiative to divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies. This initiative will most likely take place over the course of several semesters, and is part of a larger network of colleges attempting to divest from fossil fuels.
One of the main arguments for divestment, according to junior Emily Tanner who is heading the cause, is the feeling that investment in fossil fuels is inconsistent with the values of St. Mary’s. “We don’t think it is at all reflective of our values as an “environmentally friendly” school to have our money invested in an industry that is anything but.” says Tanner. “We think that there are opportunities for us to invest our money in actual environmental initiatives or the local community that would fit better with our values and are manageable as far as the money goes.”
Tanner went on to explain that divestment is not just an initiative at St. Mary’s. It is part of a larger, national movement of which St. Mary’s students would be proud to be a part, particularly since the people most affected by fossil fuel mining have shown support for it. Men and women in communities that are the site of mining and extraction have encouraged the cause, and for many involved in the initiative of showing solidarity for the people put at risk by fossil fuel mining is equally as important as preventing the inevitable environmental consequences.
At this time, SEAC and the students involved in the initiative are seeking out student support, and trying to build a strong team to continue the effort next semester. ‘We’re hoping to be able to meet with the foundation board next semester to see how this will be received by them and get a feel for how the money really works.’ says Emily. ‘We’re researching possible investment alternatives, building up a presentation, and we are going to start reaching out to faculty and alumni soon.’
So far, a student petition has reached 500 signatures, and involved students are hopeful that this will be a strong start for the new cause. Emily would like to let students know that she is looking for interested students to be a part of the initiative, and any interested people can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with their interest or questions. Students can also learn more about the national movement for divestment at http://studentsdivest.org.