Members of NYU Divest met with two members of the university’s Board of Trustees and Chief Financial Officer Martin Dorph to discuss how the institution could avoid investing in the fossil fuel industry on Monday.
The meeting came after Senior Vice President for University Relations Lynne Brown guaranteed a meeting between Divest and a Board subcommittee in response to a Divest sit-in in front of university administration offices on Dec. 16.
Divest had demonstrated student interest in their cause by passing a resolution within the University Senate, as well as gaining endorsements from all four senate councils, collecting 195 faculty letter signatories and over 2,000 additional signatures on a divestment petition. Monday’s meeting was the first time the group was able to present their case in front of Board members.
The activists used the campus support they generated to explain how NYU community members have taken particular interest in their campaign. Divest gave a presentation explaining the feasibility of divestment and demonstrated how investing in fossil fuels is inconsistent with the university’s values of sustainability.
Divest had originally been promised a meeting with the Board in April 2015, but it had been pushed back several times due to scheduling conflicts. CAS junior and Divest member Olivia Rich said the Board members seemed receptive to their ideas and she believes they are taking the issue seriously.
“We know they will be speaking with other members of the Board investment committee and we will have more information about the process at that point,” Rich said. “We are cautiously optimistic that divestment is a real possibility at NYU, which is an exciting prospect. We are heartened to see this process moving along after so much delay.”
Rich also outlined Divest’s expectations moving forward in proceedings with the Board. These expectations include transparency in subcommittee hearings, a place on the full Board’s agenda this spring and an opportunity to present to the full Board, as was promised to Divest by former university president John Sexton in spring 2014.
“We expect that the issue of fossil fuel divestment be on the full Board’s agenda to consider and resolve by the end of the spring of 2016,” Rich said. “Given the pressing and urgent nature of climate change, as well as the time already spent investigating this issue by the University Senate, which passed a resolution in favor, this is a reasonable timeframe.”
NYU Spokesman Matt Nagel said NYU trustees Joel Ehrenkranz and Daniel Tisch met with Divest representatives to hear a presentation regarding the divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies by the size of reserves, which was followed by questions and discussion.
“Although no decisions were reached, the trustees listened to the students’ concerns and agreed to report back to the NYU Board of Trustees Investment Committee on the discussion,” Nagel said.
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