NYU Reacts: Senate subcommittee opposes divestment


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Members of NYU Divest demonstrate during the University Senate meeting last Thursday.

Alex Bazeley, Deputy News Editor

Despite much lobbying by NYU Divest, the Senate Financial Affairs Committee Divestment Working Group announced it does not recommend divestment from fossil fuel related companies in a report at a University Senate meeting Thursday.

The working group’s report said divestment from fossil fuels would not be a financially prudent action for the university. The group argued, because the majority of the fossil fuel holdings are in commingled funds, divestment would require firing 39 external managers and divesting 38 percent of the endowment.

NYU Divest, however, felt the university’s explanation of the structuring of the funds was less than satisfactory.

A widely circulated letter recommending divestment signed by 130 faculty members was delivered to NYU President John Sexton in anticipation of the University Senate meeting. Although the university had previously divested from companies that supported the apartheid and genocide in Darfur, the group determined that climate change was not a comparable humanitarian issue.

An official vote on whether or not to divest will be held at the next University Senate meeting on April 30.

Members of the NYU community shared their thoughts on the prospect of divestment.

“The NYU College Democrats are disappointed with the recommendation of the Senate subcommittee that NYU should not divest from fossil fuels. However, we are excited by the increasing numbers of faculty urging the administration to act on this issue. NYU must lead by example, and taking advantage of a powerful tool like its endowment to confront climate change would be a wise and laudable decision.”

-Michael DeLuca, CAS sophomore and Secretary of the NYU College Democrats

“If it’s good for the environment and it’s going to be using less fossil fuels, then it’s a good thing, especially because NYU is such a large institution that would make an actual impact. It’s probably more complicated than we’re making it seem, but I do think that they should make some effort to reduce their carbon footprint and not be so set on not changing their ways. But I’m not surprised by it at all.”

-Katerina Svigos, Postbaccalaureate Prehealth Studies Program student

“I’ve been talking to professors I have classes with, and it’s been interesting to get some pushback, especially from law professors who follow these issues. My own ideas are developing that way too, so I like that we’re in a dialogue with them.”

-Malcolm Kim, third-year law student and member of NYU Divest

“Getting that legitimacy from tenure track faculty — a lot of whom are experts in finance, the social implications of climate change — shows not only are we on the right side of history, but we’re also on the right side of knowledge. We’re fighting something that has a lot of social science backing it. They’re a really big part of our community who deserve a voice in these issues as well and have a responsibility to voice their concerns for these issues, such as climate change.”

-Priya Mulgaonkar, CAS senior  and member of NYU Divest

“We want to show the administration that there is widespread campus support for this, and on the other hand we want the senators to have the facts. We want everyone to go into this meeting with a good idea of what the facts actually are about divestment and not just this lopsided report that came out.”

-Olivia Rich, LS freshman and member of NYU Divest

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 30 print edition. Email Alex Bazeley at [email protected].