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The next divestment campaign

Is it socially irresponsible to own stock in oil companies? That's the question that a student group want the university to take up. Fossil Free Yale (don't worry, Peabody Museum, this has nothing to do with you), the local chapter of a nationwide campaign inspired by environmental activist Bill McKibben, wants the university to divest itself of whatever holdings it has in the nation's top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies.

"Greenhouse gas emissions associated with human consumption of fossil fuels cause climate change, a serious threat to the environment and human welfare," says a petition created by the group. "By investing in fossil fuels, Yale condones and enables the industry’s behavior."

Last week, the student group presented its case to an open meeting of the university's Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, which advises Yale's investments office on such matters. The Yale Daily News reports that the committee indicated a willingness to consider the matter.

Alumni of the past 40 years will find such discussions familiar. Campus divestment campaigns over investments in tobacco, private prisons, Sudan, and most notably South Africa have been waged in the years since the ACIR was established in 1972. The university divested from some companies involved in South Africa in the early 1970s, but resisted more thorough divestment despite extensive protest in the mid-1980s, including the construction of a "shanty town" outside Woodbridge Hall.

As for the current campaign, three of the 252 colleges targeted have agreed to sell their fossil-fuel stock: Hampshire College, Unity College, and Sterling College.

Filed under Fossil Free Yale, divestment, ACIR
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