University of Oregon Foundation unexpectedly announced its plan to divest on its website on Sept. 8.
“We are proud to lead the Pac-12 in adopting the first ever environmental, social and governance considerations to help inform our investment decisions,” a statement signed by Chief Investment Officer Jay Namyet said.
UO Foundation, an independent entity from the university, is responsible for overseeing all endorsements for the institution.
Out of its $719 million budget in 2015, UO Foundation has spent 1.5 percent on fossil fuel infrastructure, according to Climate Justice League. This could equal as much as $4 million, the Emerald reported. According to the announcement, this will no longer be the case.
“We intend to let those carbon-based investments – which were initiated many years ago – expire without renewal, ending our investment in carbon-based fuel sources,” the statement read.
UO students, faculty and staff have been calling out UO Foundation for its investment in fossil fuel for years. Since 2012, Climate Justice League and its sub program, Divest UO, has held multiple rallies and protests for divestment.
In 2014, 73 percent of students voted in the student government election to see divestment. The UO Senate voted unanimously on a resolution to recommend the foundation to back off from the fuel industry in Jan. 2015.
Most recently, Divest UO held a 35-day sit in in Johnson Hall and a mock wedding in April 2016, urging divestment. During that wedding, student groups asked private donors to give their money to a nationwide divest fund, which is a tax deductible donation. The money would go to the UO Foundation if its organizers decide to divest by the end of 2017.
Back in June, Divest UO took their concern to the Board of Trustees meeting again.
Michael Dreiling, associate professor of sociology, led the discussion, offering his support for the group, the Emerald reported.
“One of the fundamental things that students who attend our university leave with is how serious [climate change] is,” Dreiling told the Board. “The Divest movement is an effort to say, ‘This is serious.’ ”
In an email with the Emerald on Aug. 28, Divest UO member Joey Ng said the group planned to organize “a public symposium” with administration. Another member, Matt Stephens, said the group will keep working throughout this school year.