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Students urge university officials to divest from fossil fuel companies

The Student Government Association last month passed an enactment, subsequently signed by SGA President Akshay Kapoor and Jean Kim, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, supporting the request to divest.

In addition, organizers with the Sustainable UMass Action Coalition, a registered student group, have collected nearly 2,000 signatures from students, parents and alumni supporting divestment that will be sent to UMass President Robert Caret. This comes in advance of a planned teach-in and rally on campus Friday.

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said Wednesday that decisions on investments are made by the Board of Trustees and are done on a systemwide basis.

The decision will be made by the UMass Foundation Investment Committee at its next meeting. This will determine how proponents of divestment proceed.

“If they decide yes, then they will instruct the endowment investors to go forward with our proposal,” said Samuel King, a junior and member of the SGA. “If no, we’ll escalate our tactics and put more pressure on President Caret and the board of trustees.”

The enactment was brought to the SGA by the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, a group of UMass students who are asking UMass officials to address climate crisis by withdrawing the university’s endowment fund investments from fossil fuel companies.

UMass would join 256 colleges and universities that have passed similar measures. The current divestment movement is modeled upon the movement undertaken to end apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s.

“The science is clear and we are already seeing the effects of a warming planet,” King said. “It doesn’t make sense to subsidize the education of today’s students by contributing to a future that cannot support them. That’s why we are asking UMass to divest.”

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