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UC Endorses All-Ivy League Statement Demanding Fossil Fuel Divestment

Students at Harvard and several other Ivy League institutions have long pushed for their universities divest from fossil fuels — including through a protest on the field of the Yale Bowl during halftime of the 136th edition of the Game.
Students at Harvard and several other Ivy League institutions have long pushed for their universities divest from fossil fuels — including through a protest on the field of the Yale Bowl during halftime of the 136th edition of the Game. By Timothy R. O'Meara
By Mayesha R. Soshi and Lucas J. Walsh, Crimson Staff Writers

The Undergraduate Council endorsed a statement calling on all Ivy League institutions to divest from fossil fuels at a Sunday meeting.

Sponsored by all eight Ivy League student body presidents, the statement calls on the universities to commit to “climate-conscious investments” and cease their investment in fossil fuel companies by 2025.

The statement said the Ivy League universities are among the “most powerful and privileged institutions in the world,” citing their collective endowment of $135 billion and their control of roughly 25 percent of all American university endowment funds.

Their collective endowments grant them both “social influence” and a “responsibility” to combat the climate crisis, according to the statement.

The UC passed legislation supporting this statement, following calls from students for the University to divest from fossil fuel companies.

“Calling for Harvard to divest its endowment from fossil fuels has been supported by a significant majority of the student body as recently as last the 2019 UC referenda process,” the legislation reads, referring to a vote the UC held in 2019 in which 69 percent of respondents supported divesting Harvard’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry by Earth Day 2020.

The act, primarily sponsored by President Noah A. Harris ’22 and Vice President Jenny Y. Gan ’22, passed by a unanimous vote.

Harvard — along with most other Ivy League schools — has declined to divest from fossil fuels despite persistent student and faculty calls to do so, arguing that divestment could alienate potential partners in the fight against climate change. The Harvard Corporation directed the Harvard Management Company in April 2020 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions with the University's endowment by 2050.

Columbia announced in January that it would no longer invest in most oil and gas companies.

The UC also passed legislation to allocate funding for movie screenings and workshops by registered nonprofit Movies for Mental Health. These events will be hosted by Active Minds, an organization working to improve mental health resources on campus.

Sponsored by Ivy Yard Representative Tarina K. Ahuja ’24, UC Health, Safety, and Wellness Committee Chair and Cabot House Representative Brooke L. Livingston ’23, and Elm Yard Representative Anant P. Rajan ’24, the legislation was passed in response to a “deep lack of resources and community building” surrounding mental health.

The UC will allocate $1,000 for the events, which will include movies about the intersection of mental health and artistic expression as well as a panel with mental health experts.

—Staff writer Mayesha R. Soshi can be reached at mayesha.soshi@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at lucas.walsh@thecrimson.com.

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Undergraduate CouncilStudent GroupsEndowmentHarvard Management CoDivestment