Climate Action Society seeks U.Va. divestment

UVIMCO lacks moral authority to make decision, member says

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If UVIMCO decided to divest, it would not be the first time the University did so. In the 1980s, UVIMCO divested from companies that supported South African apartheid, and in 2006, it divested from Sudan.

The University Climate Action Society (CAS) is taking action in hopes of seeing the University divest some of its investments from fossil fuel related industries.

Focused on statewide campaigns, political advocacy and mobilizing students, CAS currently has a campaign called Divest UVa, through which students have pressed the University to divest from fossil fuel-related industries, such as coal.

CAS secretary Caroline Bray, second-year College student, said 15 percent of the University’s seven billion dollar endowment is invested directly through UVIMCO, the University’s investment management company. Out of that 15 percent, one percent is invested in fossil fuels, she said.

“When we ask Universities to divest from fossil fuels, we're asking them to prioritize the future of their students over maximizing profits for the University,” Bray said. “We're telling fossil fuel companies that we refuse to profit from their destruction.”

CAS member Kendall King spoke to the Advancement and Communications Committee of the Board of Visitors over the summer. Fourth-year College student Daniel Judge, the BOV student member, said that interaction between students and the board continues to increase.

King said she and other CAS members had a sit-down meeting with UVIMCO prior to the BOV presentation, but there has been no follow up since then.

At the discussion, UVIMCO Chief Executive Officer Larry Kochard and Chief Operating Officer Kristina Alimard met with King. The result of that discussion, according to King, was that UVIMCO lacks the moral framework or direction to make the decision to divest — instead it would have to come from the Board.

CAS has petitioned, tabled, written articles and banner-dropped for the divestment campaign, in addition to speaking with the Board. The board has not been very responsive yet, but the movement is still in its beginning stages, Bray said.

Although the BOV has the ability to create a resolution to divest from fossil fuels, Judge said that a resolution would still just be a recommendation to UVIMCO. UVIMCO has its own governing board, and any resolution by the BOV would certainly be given notice, but UVIMCO would not be mandated to follow it.

In the 1980s, UVIMCO divested from companies that supported South African apartheid, and in 2006, it divested from Sudan.

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