Correct the Middlebury mistake and divest

With an already noticeable handful of New England colleges divesting from fossil-fuel companies and Middlebury CollegeÕs recent decision not to join them, the pressure is on for UVM.

Middlebury made a seemingly profit-driven decision to refuse divestment, citing their current policies and practices as their contribution to the environment.

And it is true that Middlebury has contributed a great deal to the nationwide growing commitment to the environment.

What is concerning is that they are undermining the rational cause for sustainability by saying that what they do now is fine and for that reason, they can overlook this further measure.

The major reason for not divesting, and what concerns most colleges and universities looking at proposals like this, is simply risk.

So where does UVM stand? We are facing the same issues as many othersÑthe risk of profit and lossÑand we are entangled in what will only continue to be hardships in balancing our year-to-year budgets.

But UVM is a unique institution. We hold many values and motives that are based entirely around the idea of sustainability. We are a nationwide leader in this field and a lauded example of student activism. Furthermore, as the rest of the country picks up on these initiatives, UVM will once again be at the forefront. We can dodge the increasing volatility of fossil-fuel investments and reinvest in alternative energy and green technology that can give us the advantage in long-term growth.

Middlebury President Ronald D. Liebowitz wrote in his statement announcing the boardÕs decision to not divest, ÒWill divestment ever be more than a symbolic statement. Is it the most effective way to address reducing greenhouse gas emissions?Ó

Well, even if it is just a symbolic statement and even if it is not the number one greatest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is something. It is meaningful and it is helpful in many ways.

For that reason, we hope the board of trustees makes the right call in choosing to adopt the divestment proposal created by members of the Student Climate Culture and the Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Council.

Middlebury has dropped the ball. And UVM should be right there to pick it up.