Friday, April 19, 2013

New club demands PLU divest stocks in coal, oil

By Reland Tuomi, News Writer

A recently formed campus organization, Divestment Club, takes Pacific Lutheran Univeristy’s commitment to carbon neutrality very seriously. The club’s goal is for PLU to freeze “any new investments in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds,” according to their page on gofossilfree.org.
   
“We want to make sure endowments go to honest and just campaigns for the earth,” senior Jessica Zimmerle, a club member, said.

The idea for divestment came from Bill McKibben, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and creator of 350.org. An environmental studies scholar, McKibben wanted colleges across the country to join his campaign to slow down global warming by divesting from fossil-fuel stocks.
   
There are 302 active campaigns and campuses that have divested, including PLU. “Exxon spends $100 million a day looking for carbon deposits,” Zimmerle said, referring to the facts page from 350.org. “To stop global warming, we need to keep carbon in the ground.” The club’s efforts and goals are no secret.
   
"We could be quiet and discreet about it, Ethan Manthey, president of Divestment Club, said. “But we are trying to make a big hoopla out of it. The school should be proud we divested, and outside forces should know, too.”
   
For PLU, members said the Divestment Club would like more student support in signing a petition to present to the PLU administration, stating campus should disclose which companies it is investing students’ money in.
   
“The purpose of divestment is to reinvest into the long term,” junior Jenny Taylor said. “We want students to understand the issue.” Divestment goes beyond just student understanding, however.
   
“Investing in fossil fuels is contradictory to PLU’s contribution to the common good,” senior Kenny Stancil said. “If we want to be carbon neutral by 2020, we need to divest.”
   
The Divestment Club is reaching out to the PLU community through tabling in the Anderson University Center, publishing their petition in “Matrix” and through a Facebook page called PLU Divestment Campaign. The club is also hoping to have an event during Sustainability Week and Earth Week.
   
“You will be hearing about us soon,” Manthey said.