The Faculty Senate passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the UB Foundation (UBF) to divest its funds from fossil fuels. Fossil Free UB, a student-run environmental group led by Vanessa Dwyer, a senior environmental studies major, began the divestment campaign last year.
The resolution passed 28-2 by voters in the Student Association, Graduate Student Association and the SUNY-wide SA. It calls for UBF to divest in fossil fuels and reinvest in “socially responsible” investments. The resolution also asks for quarterly updates on the foundation’s divestment.
Alexa Ringer, a leading organizer in Fossil Free, said the resolution is encouraging, but their divestment campaign does not end here.
“A resolution is nonbinding, and as such can only be treated as a suggestion,” Ringer said. “However, the support and endorsement of our resolution from these bodies demonstrates an overwhelming support for fossil fuel divestment at UB.”
Schools have pledged similar divestment campaigns across the country from Stanford University to the University of Hawaii. More locally, SUNY Brockport, Plattsburgh, Geneseo and Oneonta have all begun fossil fuel divestment campaigns. Students hope to reduce the impacts of climate change by divesting in fossil fuels and looking to cleaner, sustainable resources.
UBF is a private foundation that holds more than $1 billion in UB donations. Students and professors have criticized the foundation for its lack of transparency. They have not told Fossil Free UB the exact amount invested in fossil fuels. In the fall, UBF denied Faculty Senate Chair Philip Glick’s request to add three members, one student, one faculty member and one professional staff, to the UBF board.
The members of Fossil Free UB hope divestment will be a gateway into further transparency within UBF.
“We are incredibly proud of this accomplishment, and grateful towards the faculty for supporting our endeavor,” Ringer said. “As I said however, this is a non-binding resolution, and we plan on continuing to pressure the foundation to divest. The foundation should bear in mind the weight of a resolution with the entire student body and faculty's support.”
Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org