Nicole Mailhoit / Gavel Media

University Does Not Respond to UGBC Call for Divestment

Almost three weeks after the Undergraduate Student Government of Boston College (UGBC) passed a resolution calling for the university to divest its endowment from fossil fuels, the university administration has not issued a public response.

Kyle Rosenthal, CSOM '21 and a representative of Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC), the student organization that was involved in working with UGBC to pass the resolution, informed The Gavel that CJBC is "upset by the administration's lack of attention to this matter."

Rosenthal also reiterated why divestment from the fossil fuel industry is so important for BC. He cited moral responsibility and pointed to Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, which called for more environmentally responsible practices.

"As long as we invest in fossil fuels, we are encouraging their use over renewables, a cheaper and more sustainable energy source," Rosenthal said.

"Economically, fossil fuel stocks have declined, and as renewables become cheaper, it makes much more sense to invest in them rather than fossil fuel companies," Rosenthal continued. 

Rosenthal also noted the growing number of cities and universities, including Georgetown University, which have already taken steps toward divestment.

"Based on the statements we have received, it does not appear that BC will even attempt to properly evaluate the social impact of its investments," said Rosenthal. "We are doing our best to continue to reach out to the administration, and are always open to meeting with them in order to begin the process of divestment." 

The Gavel contacted Chief Investment Officer John Zona for comment on this issue, who responded with a statement regarding Boston College’s position on divestment.

"Boston College remains opposed to divestment from fossil fuel companies on the grounds that it is not an effective way to address climate change," said the statement, which was also sent to members of CJBC who contacted administrators to ask for a response to the UGBC resolution. 

The statement went on to say that the best way for BC to address climate change is to "take active steps to reduce energy consumption and enhance sustainability measures."

The statement also listed actions that the university has taken to reduce its carbon footprint, including "extensive energy conservation programs" and "the construction of LEED-certified buildings on campus."

"As an educational institution, Boston College believes that it can make its greatest contribution to the sustainability effort by educating its students to be leaders in the field, where they can ultimately have the greatest effect on environmental policy," said the statement. 

CJBC, however, maintains that divestment from the fossil fuel industry would be a more powerful stance.

"For our economy to transition away from fossil fuels, fossil fuel companies' business models must be shown to be unprofitable, and consumer demands for alternatives must be generated," said CJBC member Kayla Lawlor, MCAS '20.

"By remaining invested in fossil fuel companies, [Boston College] is actively sponsoring climate change [and] promoting market confidence in a profitable financial future for the fossil fuel industry," continued Lawlor. "If the university changes its policies, it will create an opportunity for other investors to do the same."

Following the divestment vote, CJBC began planning for the Rights On the Heights rally, which will take place in the Academic Quad on May 3 at 5 p.m.

On the Facebook event page, the organizers urge students to "join us in calling on Boston College to respect student voices and speak out against injustice on campus!"

The event is intended to serve as a platform that will allow students to voice their frustrations with the university's response to other instances of student activism in the past academic year, including the detainment of two students who used sidewalk chalk to criticize university in March, the Students for Sexual Health referendum in February, and the march and walkout that condemned institutional racism in October.

"We are currently working with UGBC and a number of other student groups to educate and ultimately rally students," said Rosenthal. "Other social justice and student groups on campus have felt ignored, along with CJBC, so we are going to work together to prove to the administration that student voices must be heard and respected."

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