Road to divestment paved with miscommunication


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Students, faculty, and alumni calling on NYU to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Myles Agudelo, Contributing Writer

Student activist group NYU Divest is accusing the university of failing to honor its agreement to meet with Divest members over the summer to discuss a divestment proposal passed by the NYU University Senate last spring.

Sophie Lasoff, the leader of NYU Divest, said she is disappointed by the lack of a meeting with the Trustees.

“Unfortunately, the university did not follow through on the promise to get us in front of the Trustees as soon as possible and have consistently delayed throughout the summer,” Lasoff said.

NYU spokesperson John Beckman says everything is going according to schedule and the Trustees do not meet in the summer. He added that the university will likely set up a special subcommittee to review the matter and would not be established until the fall.

“We understand NYU Divest’s interest in the matter,” Beckman said. “We have been in direct contact with NYU Divest and shared with them a timetable.”

Divesting the university’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry has been a hotly contested issue. While some groups claim divestment is a necessary step for the university in its commitment to the environment, the Independent Petroleum Association of America released a report saying divestment would cost NYU $4.16 million per year. The report comes as many institutions, such as Harvard and Yale, with large endowments are facing pressure to divest while considering the financial impact divestment would have on each institution.

Despite the claims that the university is on track with their review of divestment, some are becoming restless about the slow pace of the review. CAS senior Davis Saltonstall, a member of EarthMatters@NYU, voiced his discontent and suggested action would be taken if the university continued to delay.

“The university should prepare for unrest if it continues to delay a decision on divestment,” Saltonstall said.

While waiting for a response from the Trustees, NYU Divest does not plan on sitting still.

“We are working on a strategy to put the topic front and center again since it’s clear the administration is not willing to take prompt action,” Lasoff says.

While advocates for divestment want the decision from NYU as quickly as possible, Beckman notes that this is too large of a decision for the university to make quickly.

“Presumably we would want the Board to have the opportunity to give this matter a comparable degree of careful consideration,” Beckman said.

The NYU Board of Trustees will hold their first annual meeting of the school year in October.

Email Myles Agudelo at [email protected].