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Union Theological Seminary votes to divest from fossil fuels

Union Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted on Tuesday to divest the school’s $108.4 million endowment from fossil fuels.

UTS President Serene Jones wrote about the decision in an op-ed in Time, noting that the decision makes UTS the first seminary in the country to divest from fossil fuels.

“We realize that our endowment alone will hardly cause the fossil fuel giants to miss even half a heartbeat,” Jones wrote. “That said, it is on moral grounds that we pursue divestment, and on theological grounds that we trust it matters.”

“I hope our decision to divest encourages other seminaries and universities to recognize that there are things we can do as a country and as a people to cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions,” Jones wrote.

Divestment has become an increasingly visible issue at universities across the country in the past few years. At Columbia, students have pressured the administration to divest for much of the past year.

Barnard Columbia Divest, which was founded in November 2012, successfully pushed through a ballot initiative in October that asked the University to divest from the 200 largest fossil-fuel harvesting companies.

In November, the group met with the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which makes recommendations on divestment to Columbia’s Board of Trustees, and proposed divestment from the top 200 fossil-fuel harvesting companies, divestment from direct holdings and commingled funds within five years, and a freeze on new fossil fuel investments.

ACSRI voted in May not to support Barnard Columbia Divest’s proposal, saying that the proposal did not meet the committee’s criteria for divestment. The committee added that it would establish a subcommittee to examine student proposals for divestment and “pursue the optimal engagement model for the university.”

Check back for updates.

samantha.cooney@columbiaspectator.com  |  @sammcooney

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