Student Association Assembly asks UB to ‘divest’ from fossil fuel industry

Assembly passes resolution directed toward UB Foundation, UB Council, President and Interim Provost

sa-meeting

The Student Association Assembly passed a resolution on Thursday calling on UB to “divest” from fossil fuels.

Although there is no proof that UB is investing in the fossil fuel industry, the resolution asks the UB Foundation, UB President Satish Tripathi, Interim Provost A. Scott Weber and the UB Council to direct “adequate attention and militant resources” toward “divesting” all UB funds from fossil fuel industries. SA Board of Directors Chair Hayden Gise introduced the resolution to the BOD on Sept. 25, but the board rejected adding it to the agenda and therefore did not discuss it. Since the assembly passed the resolution, Gise said copies of the resolution will be sent “immediately” to those being asked to divest. 

 “It’s a real slap in the face for a lot of students to see the money the university is spending and investing to try and make us this world class premier university,” Gise said. “President Tripathi, he wants us to be the UCLA of the East Coast. Will it even matter if we don’t have a planet and we’re investing in these fossil fuels that are killing us?”

Gise’s comments come after the 2017 Paradise Papers’ leak which found UBF –– a tax-exempt nonprofit and private entity that handles donations to UB and manages the university’s endowment –– invested in the fossil fuel industry. The leak did not involve UB’s investments.

The Spectrum found no record of Tripathi mentioning UB’s desire to be the “UCLA of the East Coast.”

 UB Council Student Representative Michael Montoro said UBF “isn’t transparent” with its investments and how it allocates its money, therefore making it unknown if UB is investing in the fossil fuel industry. He believes this resolution will give students that information, while providing the opportunity to call on UBF to divest. 

 “In order to curtail climate change, you sort of think about what we all can do and this [resolution] is [that] kind of thing,” Montoro said. “Putting pressure on [UBF] to take millions of dollars potentially out of the fossil fuel industry is something which has a major impact. And even putting a little bit of pressure on the foundation to do something like that is incredibly impactful.”

Gise hopes the resolution will encourage UB to invest elsewhere. 

 “We as students have to pay tuition, we have to pay fees, that money goes toward these investments and we have no idea what the portfolio looks like,” Gise said. “I believe  fundamentally the same way the tobacco industry causes issues to our health, investing in fossil fuel companies is the same way. It’s unethical to me.”

 Alexandra Moyen is the assistant news editor and can be reached at alexandra.moyen@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @AlexandraMoyen.