SU ceases direct investment in fossil fuels

The announcement came after months of student groups calling for the university to divest.

Syracuse University announced Tuesday that it would formally commit to prohibiting investment of the endowment in coal mining and other fossil fuels.

The university administration officially decided to stop investing the endowment in publicly traded companies dealing in fossil fuels, according to an SU News release

The decision came in part due to a desire for corporate responsibility. “Syracuse has a long record of supporting responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship, and we want to continue that record,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said.

It also came in part due to increasing pressure from on-campus student groups. In November 2014, THE General Body demanded divestment as a part of its 18-day sit-in and Divest SU and ESF, a student group dedicated to this outcome, met with university officials in late February to discuss divestment.

“It is heartening to see our students fully engaged on this important issue,” said Bea González, dean of University College and special assistant to the chancellor. “We have already had productive dialogue on divestment, and this step underscores our mutual commitment to acting in a way that supports the best interests of the University, our students and the world,” González said in the release.

This is the latest move that university has made in its attempt to be more environmentally conscious. SU previously agreed to increase energy efficiency on campus when it signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. That prompted SU to create a Climate Action Plan in 2009, which included Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for projects costing more than $10 million as well as the installation of 240 solar thermal panels on the roofs of 20 buildings on South Campus, according to the news release.

The administration’s divestment is a significant first step in cutting its contribution to fossil fuels and the negative consequences associated with it. But the gesture will be empty if the university does not follow through on its commitment. However, in divesting, the university seems to be following through and participating in a national and international divestment trend.

The University of Maine, Stanford University, The New School and a number of educational institutions have divested. Many cities have chosen to divest too, including Oslo, the capital of Norway, Seattle, Berkeley and Palo Alto in California, Ithaca, New York, Oxford in the United Kingdom, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and about three dozen more cities, according to Go Fossil Free.

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