UVM panel of trustees rejects fossil fuel divestment proposals

A panel of trustees at the University unanimously rejected a proposal for fossil-fuel divestment at their meeting Dec. 18. 

This action puts an end to official consideration of a recommendation that the University’s endowment fund eliminates its holdings in companies that deal with fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which are widely regarded, according to an article in the Burlington Free Press

“In time, it is conceivable that UVM can and undoubtedly should divest from fossil fuel; however, their decision not to at this time comes as no surprise,” first-year and Environmental Science major Tyler Davis said. 

“At least UVM is using fossil fuels in as effective a manner as possible and making efforts to improve building efficiency, both of which are currently more feasible than divesting,” Davis added. 

“To my knowledge, there is yet to be a reliable and financially viable renewable energy source that would allow our university to fully divest from fossil fuels,” Davis said.  

Sophomore Rachel Rhodes agrees with the University’s decision. 

“UVM is just a water drop in all the money invested in fossil fuels,” she said. 

The decision not to divest was made in the investment subcommittee meeting, a three-member group overseeing management of the endowment, including the Board of Trustees’ Budget, Finance and Investment Committee. 

“I believe that we are well served to not move this forward because I don’t think we believe that it is in the best interest of the endowment,” committee member Samuel Bain said of their decision. 

Student activists attending the meeting told the BFP that they were not surprised but they would continue their campaign nevertheless.

“It’s a shame that Trustee Bain has decided to use his vast degree of control over this issue to subvert the will of the UVM community and attempt to enforce his agenda on the future committee he is leaving in less than two months,” Dan Cmejla, a member of Student Climate Culture said. 

The issue may be over for Bain, but it is certainly not for the thousands of students, faculty and community members who have made their opinion on this crucial issue painfully clear, Cmejla said.

This move on the part of the Investment Subcommittee is unjust and the committee members should have give it due consideration, Cmejla said. 

“His [Bain’s] will is greater than the rest of the board,” Cmejla said. 

All governing bodies have nevertheless supported divestment, including members of the faculty, staff council and student senate, and Student Climate Culture intends to escalate its campaigns, Cmejla said.