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BC Hesitant About Fossil Fuel Divestment

After a non-binding referendum on the Undergraduate of Government of Boston College elections ballot asking if BC should withhold investments from the fossil fuel industry received 2,005 votes “yes” and 374 “no,” University Spokesman Jack Dunn said that BC will not comment on student elections, but the school’s stance on divestment has not changed.

“Boston College remains opposed to divestment from fossil fuel companies on the grounds that it is not a viable solution to the important issue of climate change,” Dunn said in an emailed statement to The Heights.

“The University’s position is that the most effective way to limit climate change is for Boston College, along with corporations, organizations and individuals, to take active steps to reduce energy consumption and enhance sustainability measures.”

For this reason, the University has been actively engaging in pursuits directed toward sustainability, with efforts ranging from extensive energy conservation programs supported by faculty, students, and administrators to the construction of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings on campus, Dunn said in the statement.

“These initiatives have yielded significant gains in energy savings and efficiency while reducing the University’s carbon footprint,” Dunn said in the statement. “They will remain an important component of Boston College’s ongoing planning efforts in the years to come.”  

The referendum was sponsored by Climate Justice at BC (CJBC); Kate Canavan, a UGBC senator and MCAS ’21; and Kyle Rosenthal, a CJBC member and CSOM ’21.

“We intend to continue a dialogue with the administration on how to best address climate change, especially in terms of the endowment,” CJBC said in a statement to The Heights. “Divestment is a process that will require a certain level of transparency as a first step and we recognize that it is not an immediate action.”

CJBC said that, in addition to the administration, it hopes that the Board of Trustees will reach out in order to “at least have a dialogue and proactively engage on matters of transparency, investments, and climate action.”

The group said that it is very excited about the referendum result itself and that the student body had again affirmed its support for divestment and immediate action regarding climate change.

“We hope to continue to engage with and educate students, alumni, faculty, and the entire Boston College community on how our endowment practices affect our entire world, as well as our local community,” the statement said.

Michael Osaghae, MCAS ’20, and Tiffany Brooks, MCAS ’21, the president-elect and executive vice president-elect of UGBC, respectively, also weighed in on the subject.

The two said that climate change is an important and urgent issue that will require a multifaceted approach. While they recognized that the University has and will continue to pursue sustainability efforts, they also acknowledged the referendum result shows that more than 2,000 students are in favor of divestment.

“In line with UGBC’s mission of representing the student voice, we will advocate that the University listen and build off our student body’s call for divestment from the fossil fuel industry,” they said in a statement to The Heights. “In addition to acknowledging the stance of our student body, we will advocate for more spaces for conversation and action about the fossil fuel industry and our University’s role in addressing climate change.”

UGBC passed a resolution that called for divestment from the fossil fuel industry last April. Canavan told The Heights earlier this month that the referendum built on the foundation created by that resolution, the purpose of which was to demonstrate the student body’s support for divestment.

“Now it’s not just the people elected to represent the student body,” she said, “but the student body themselves showing that they support the University divesting.”

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff

February 25, 2019