Thursday, March 13, 2014

Associated Students Vote Unanimously to Urge WWU Foundation to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Student voice is clear: Get Western’s money out of fossil fuels – now.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2014

Contacts:
Eddy Ury: 206-972-2001, edwardury@gmail.com
Jenny Godwin: 406-241-1082, westernsre@gmail.com 
Students for Renewable Energy
Jill MacIntryre Witt: 360-201-3093, 350bellingham@gmail.com
350 Bellingham

Student government leaders and environmental groups
joined together to urge WWU to end its endowment
holdings in coal and oil companies.
BELLINGHAM, WA – Student government leaders at Western Washington University (WWU) sent a clear message Wednesday night, agreeing unanimously to urge the WWU Foundation to cease its investments in fossil fuel companies. Among the concerns the Associated Students (AS) Board highlighted were the urgent crisis of climate change and Western’s history of being a leader on sustainability issues.

The recommendation results from nearly a year of study conducted by a committee of University administrators, WWU Foundation staff, student environmental groups, and student government leaders. The AS Board called on the Foundation to freeze new investments in fossil fuels by the end of 2014, and to sell off remaining investments within five years. 

“We are proud of our AS Board for representing student voices by adopting a strong position in favor of fossil fuel divestment,” said Eddy Ury, an organizer of the student divestment campaign and member of the divestment committee. “Together with the student vote last year to start this process, we expect the Foundation will take this recommendation as a clear indicator of where Western’s students stand.”

In May 2013, 86% of WWU students voted in favor of a ballot measure to advance the effort to divest the Foundation endowment from fossil fuels. The divestment campaign is aiming to end investments in companies that own the vast majority of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves. Some 5% of WWU’s $49 million endowment is invested in the fossil fuel sector. 

In their deliberations, AS Board members stressed the urgency of climate change and broad student support as key reasons to offer the recommendation. In addition to the national divestment campaign, heightened local awareness of major proposals like the Cherry Point coal terminal has led to increased student interest in Western’s role in financing the fossil fuel industry and its projects.

“As students who will inherit the climate crisis, we believe it’s time to stop putting money into polluting energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas.” said Jenny Godwin, assistant president of the Students for Renewable Energy, a on-campus group leading the divestment campaign. “When the WWU Foundation takes into account the impacts these investments are having on our air, water, and climate, they will have a moral obligation to simply say no.”

The text of the final recommendation from the Associated Students Board of Directors follows:
“The Associated Students of Western Washington University urge the Western Washington University Foundation Board of Directors to freeze all further investments in fossil fuels by the end of 2014, and to divest within five years from the top 200 fossil fuel companies that together own the majority of known fossil fuel reserves. The AS also requests that an amendment be made to the WWU Foundation Endowment Investment Policy under clause 2.3.8 regarding Social Responsibility, to prohibit future investments in companies that extract fossil fuels (additional to the present restrictions on alcohol and tobacco).”

###

The STUDENTS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY is an Associated Students chartered club of Western Washington University that works to affect the local, national and global community to move toward sustainability through the use of renewable energy, primarily by setting an example at Western Washington University.

350 BELLINGHAM is the local chapter of 350.org, a national grassroots organization building support for decisive action to combat climate change. 350.org launched the national campaign to divest major institutions from fossil fuels in late 2012, which has since expanded to over 350 college campuses nationwide.

RE SOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES is a non-profit conservation organization in Bellingham, Washington, working to support the students' divestment campaign and other efforts to stop coal exports from the West Coast of the United States. It is part of the regional Power Past Coal Coalition.

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