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Board of Trustees takes a step towards divestment

We appreciate the Board of Trustees’ decision to adopt policies related to fossil fuel divestment. While the new guidelines are small steps, and a lot of work still needs to be done, they are making steps nonetheless towards divesting from fossil fuels, and this marks an improvement in the Board’s willingness to hear and respond to student concerns.

The Board decided that their existing investments in fossil fuel partnerships will run the funds’ typical life cycles and that the university will suspend new investments of this nature for the next three years. They will also increase their focus on energy efficiency. Next year, President Liebowitz will convene a task force to further goals for reductions in campus carbon emissions.

These policies show a marked improvement in the Board’s engagement with fossil fuel divestment. Students and professors have been advocating for change for years, and this is the first time that administration is addressing the issue with real change. The changes are not drastic and have a long way to go, but it is a good start. We also thank Brandeis Climate Justice (BCJ) and Faculty Against Climate Threat (FACT) for their continued efforts and activism.

The report also raises some questions. For instance, why is the timeline three years, and what happens then? What will increased focus on renewable energy look like? The university will not be divesting from commingled funds that contain fossil fuel investments. Since commingled funds go towards financial aid and professorships, the loss of these funds would disrupt the financial stability of the university and potentially affect students’ ability to attend Brandeis. Will the university divest from these commingled funds in the future? Should there be a plan that moves the university gradually towards divesting from these types of funds?

We are eager to see more collaboration with the Board of Trustees. These policies reflect the Board’s increased openness in responding to student concerns, instead of ignoring pleas for divestment and not considering it.

Climate change is one of the largest social justice issues today. It affects lives as much as it affects the environment. It damages water supplies, destroys crops, depletes the ozone layer, which leads to air pollution, and contributes to extreme weather events that threaten lives. Brandeis cannot uphold its reputation as a socially conscious institution without addressing one of the most pressing problems of the 21st century. Our small part in divesting from fossil fuels makes a difference, and the Board has taken the first step.

Editor’s Note: Ryan Spencer did not contribute to this editorial.

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