There’s a growing new method in the fight against climate change: college students demanding that their schools divest themselves from their stock holdings in fossil fuel companies. The current movement hearkens back to the late 1970’s and 80’s, when there were protests on campuses around the country asking that their schools divest themselves of stock owned in companies that were doing business in South Africa, which was under apartheid rule at the time.
So far, the students’ success has been limited, and no school with an endowment over $1 billion has agreed to the request, despite the fact that many administrators agree with their students’ climate change fears.
Certainly, shedding stock in energy companies could be costly for colleges, and schools that do decide to divest themselves of the holdings need to do so in a thoughtful manner.
But here’s the thing: college campuses have long been asking their students to increase their own individual awareness regarding energy consumption and recycling, and many have undertaken green initiatives like solar panel installation. Being considered a green campus is a point of pride for many schools – and one that many universities advertise on. To now balk at their students’ request to take that commitment to their student body’s future one step further seems disingenuous, and may end up causing their students to undertake more drastic measures in the future.