Letter to the Editor: Organize UVM to share divesting proposal

Letter to the Editor

The climate movement has been gaining necessary momentum over the last few weeks. Climate science doesn’t lie, and people are increasingly acknowledging the urgency of climate change.

One of many institutions that are a part of the growing climate crisis is the University of Vermont.

UVM prides itself on being a “green school,” with green roofs, a bikeshare program, upon other initiatives funded by the University’s Clean Energy Fund.

However, the elephant in the room is that UVM has part of our massive endowment invested in fossil fuel industries. How could a university be so widely considered “green,” and “sustainable” while investing in the very industry that is destroying our planet?

University Treasurer Richard Cate, leader of sustainability and climate action at UVM and vice president of finance, said “When a student says they’re not going to drive a car anymore and they’re going to ride a bicycle, they’ve actually done something . . . they’re reducing the amount of oil that is needed” according to an Oct. 1 Cynic article.

Individual action is important, but institutional change is vital. The time for climate action is now, and it’s in the best interests of everyone at UVM, in Vermont and the world to make big changes.

The University can’t greenwash their way to Princeton Review’s list of “Top green schools” anymore. Expecting returns from the very industry that is killing the planet we all share is  nothing short of hypocritical.

A new club on campus called Organize is tackling the issue of fossil fuel divestment and will be present at the Oct. 25-26 board of trustees meeting. The day that the divestment proposal will be discussed is not yet known, but Organize’s presence will be acknowledged regardless.

If the proposal is accepted, it will be a monumental moment in UVM’s history. If the proposal is rejected, we will not rest. There is no time to rest.

Every movement needs to start somewhere, and rejection of this proposal will only drive us. Climate action can’t wait, and neither can we.

With four years until every undergraduate at this university has graduated, we need to act now. If rejection awaits us at this board meeting, direct action will ensue.

This month we attempt to go through the process of proposing a well-written proposal while being as diplomatic as possible in the face of crisis.

We cannot afford to take our time as a student body or global population.

Student power and mobilization can manifest in a variety of ways. Right now, Organize has a few student leaders and some dedicated members. If everyone who attended the climate strike were involved, our demands for change from UVM would be more powerful.

We will be powerless only if we keep telling ourselves that we are. UVM’s administration doesn’t want to be held accountable for their irresponsible and unsustainable investments, and they want us to feel powerless.

If we want true change, it has to come from change in the institutions perpetuating and funding the escalation of climate change. The only way to stop these institutions is by mass-mobilization.

At this point, it’s not a numbers game; we have the numbers among us, but we must be dedicated and willing to step up to the plate and demand tangible action.

Follow Organize on Instagram @organizeuvm and sign the divestment petition if you’re affiliated with UVM at go.uvm.edu/divest.


The Vermont Cynic accepts Letters to the Editor and Guest Commentaries that are relevant to our readers. All letters and commentaries must include the author’s first and last name. The Cynic reserves the right to edit letters for length and grammar and to reject letters for matters of taste and accuracy. Letters and commentaries are voices from the community and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Cynic. Please send letters to [email protected]