Beyond the Hill

University of Colorado Board of Regents votes not to divest from fossil fuels

Tony Chao | Art Director

The Board of Regents at the University of Colorado has recently voted not to divest from the school’s use of fossil fuels in a 7-2 vote.

Despite encouragement from members of the student body and faculty at the university, the Republican-controlled Board of Regents voted against the plan put on the table, said Linda Shoemaker, a Board of Regents member that voted in favor of the divestment from fossil fuels. Republicans hold a 5-4 majority on the board.

Prior to the vote, members of the University of Colorado community that support the divestment from fossil fuels gathered in a rally on the grassy area outside of the library, said Martin Walter, a professor at the university who favors divestment from fossil fuels. The community members camped out, rallied and hosted speakers on the issue in hopes of spreading awareness, he said.

“Our whole society just doesn’t get how serious the situation is,” said Walter, stressing the consequences of global warming should this problem continue to be ignored.

The rally comes as part of the continuum of events and workshops as part of a campaign by students on campus to spread awareness on the issue of divesting from fossil fuels, said Simón Mostafa, a student activist on campus that has been involved with the campaign for the past three years.

Despite the Board’s decision, the students involved in the campaign will continue to rally for support of divestment in the future, Mostafa said. He added that they are hopeful of shifting the support of members of the board sooner rather than later, although they’re in it for the long haul if that’s what it takes.

Board of Regents member Sue Sharkey, who voted against the divestment of fossil fuels, did so in question of whether or not climate change was a threat that needed to be addressed with the decision, according to an article published by ctpost.com on April 16.

“It would be a great political, philosophical and educational statement,” said Walter, should the university decide in the future to divest from the use of fossil fuels.

The Board of Regents also voted 6-3 opposing a resolution proposal of a sustainable investment committee to study divestment options that the university has. In addition, the committee would be able to make recommendations without taking action on divestment, Shoemaker said.

“I hope that the six members of the board that did not vote with me will continue to educate themselves on this issue,” Shoemaker said.

Financially, Shoemaker said it is their responsibility as members of the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado to manage the assets of the school accordingly. It would be a wise choice in the long run to begin the shift from investing finances in fossil fuels to beginning to invest in the growing renewable resources economy, she said. It would also be wise from an environmental perspective, Shoemaker added.

The University of Colorado is one of the only schools in the nation that elects the members of its Board of Regents, and Shoemaker — who was elected this past November — said over the course of the rest of her six-year term progress will be made toward a plan of divestment as new board members are elected.

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