Georgetown Joins Divestment Movement, Says 'No' to Coal

Georgetown University is officially joining the divestment movement.

In a June 4 press release, the university announced that Georgetown’s Board of Directors passed a resolution to divest from coal companies, stating that “the university will not make or continue any direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principle business is mining coal for use in energy production.”

The resolution itself addressed the issue of the university’s decision to divest, naming reasons such as the school’s Jesuit identity, the growth and careful management of its endowment in recent years, and continued engagement with questions of social responsibility and sustainability.

The decision was a team effort, made based on the Board Working Group’s deliberations and analysis coupled with proposals put forth by Georgetown University Fossil Free (GUFF), a student group on campus, and the University Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility.

“As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown has a responsibility to lead on issues of justice and the common good such as environmental protection and sustainability,” the resolution states. “Climate change is real and poses a serious threat.”

This is not the first time Georgetown has stood out among the country’s universities in regards to environmentally friendly practices. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Georgetown is the second largest green power user of all campuses in the country—100 percent of the electricity used on main campus comes from renewable sources.

The school has also managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 70 percent since 2006, and four of the campus’s buildings have received LEED green building certifications.

University President John J. DeGioia says that Georgetown’s environmental practices tie in directly with its Jesuit mission. “As a Catholic and Jesuit university, we are called to powerfully engage the world, human culture and the environment,” he says.

“[Climate change] requires out most serious attention. As a university community, we can best respond to this evolving and ongoing challenge when we embrace the tensions embedded in this work—and the variety of perspectives that are present—as we seek an ever deeper understanding of how to respond best in ways that contribute to the common good.”

Climate Justice at Boston College member Klara Henry, MCAS '17, hopes that Georgetown’s decision will have an impact in Chestnut Hill as well. “Although this is only a small step towards full divestment from fossil fuels, the symbolic implications are important both for universities across the US and especially for BC,” she said via email.

University spokesperson Jack Dunn says that the university remains firm in its position on divestment despite GU's resolution. "Georgetown's decision regarding divestment from coal companies will not affect our investment decisions here at Boston College," says Dunn.

"We remain committed to reducing our carbon footprint by supporting effective sustainability measures that have significantly reduced our energy consumption, and to educating our students to be leaders in this area through our on-campus programs and educational offerings."

CJBC has continuously criticized university administrators over the past year, claiming that they havebeen unwilling to meet with CJBC members and are failing to live up to Boston College’s Jesuit ideals by continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies. The student-led divestment group has gained more ground with the student body in the past two semesters, having a significant role in two Rights on the Heights rallies and collaborating with other social justice groups on campus as well.

The group has also found support in the national divestment community. A crowd of protestors from Students for a Just and Stable Future, which included renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben, marched through campus this past spring on Admitted Eagle Day.

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