The Gavel editorial board endorses the referendum to the student body presented by Climate Justice at Boston College, encouraging students to vote "yes" in response to the Undergraduate Government Boston College election ballot question "Should Boston College withhold investments from the fossil fuel industry?" on Thursday.
The referendum calls for a complete divestment from fossil fuels within five years and immediate withholding from any further investments. After the university administration failed to respond to a UGBC resolution concerning divestment in April 2018, CJBC has worked to present the issue to the student body at large to demonstrate popular support for divestment.
CJBC and other supporters of the referendum cite Boston College’s commitment to its Jesuit Catholic mission, guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding ethical investment, and Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato si', which calls for “care for our common home," as reasons why the university should divest.
In the fall, Seattle University became the first Jesuit institution to announce full divestment from the fossil fuel industry. Georgetown University, which has divested from coal and tar sands, and the University of Dayton, which has fully divested, are also leading the way as Catholic universities making divestment efforts.
However, the movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry extends beyond universities, with more than a thousand foundations, parishes, cities, and other institutions already divesting more than $8 trillion from the fossil fuel industry.
CJBC’s petition to get the divestment referendum on the ballot surpassed the minimum requirement of 1,000 signatures from students at BC. The referendum is sponsored by Kate Canavan, chair of UGBC’s Environmental Committee and MCAS '21, in addition to receiving co-sponsorship from other senators and general support from UGBC President Reed Piercey, MCAS '19, and Executive VP Ignacio Fletcher, MCAS '20.
Students can vote on the referendum during the UGBC election on Thursday, Feb. 14 starting at midnight and closing at 4 p.m. Voters will also be asked to choose their new UGBC President and Executive Vice President for the 2019-2020 school year.