CHICO, CA — On Wednesday, Chico State University showed immense leadership as one of the first public universities in the nation to commit to fully divesting from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies within four years. The resolution, authored by members of Fossil Free California State University, was passed 8 – 4 by the CSU Chico University Foundation.

Chico State

Other colleges and universities in California have taken similar positions. Pitzer College decided to divest from fossil fuels in April 2014, and only a few weeks later Stanford committed to coal divestment. Of the 23 CSUs, CSU Chico is the third CSU to create a divestment policy, along with San Francisco State and Humboldt State. While CSU Chico has no direct investments in fossil fuel companies, approximately 1.5 percent of the foundation’s endowment is invested in mutual funds containing stock from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

“This has been an inspiring experience working with youth leaders across the nation and state to demand, and win, fossil fuel divestment. Our campaign over the past year and a half was strongly supported by the Chico student government, who worked hard to bring this proposal to the Foundation after seeing strong student engagement. The work was catapulted by a team that built support on campus and held numerous creative actions, including a human oil spill in the administration building, and a banner drop on the tallest building,” explains Kevin Killion, a student leader at Chico State University and Operating Team Chair with the CA Student Sustainability Coalition. “This effort is only made possible through the teamwork and solidarity built among the hundreds of campaigns sharing best practices and strategies. Together we make this movement stronger. Our victory at Chico is only the beginning of the battle for California.”

Prior to submitting the divestment resolution to the University Foundation, Fossil Free CSU Chico gained significant support on campus. Over 60 faculty members signed a petition in favor of divestment, and over 80 percent of student voters advocated for the University Foundation to divest the endowment from fossil fuel companies. Additionally, the California State Student Association passed a system-wide policy that endorsed all CSU campuses.

“The is an inspiring note to end an epic 2014 for the divestment movement, and having the first public university commit to full divestment is a huge step for a movement that just will not slow down. We’ve seen students take action at the White House on Keystone XL, gather in the hundreds at a national convergence, show up in full force at the People’s Climate March, and hold over a hundred inspiring actions that have led to more than five campus victories just this year,” reflects Silver Hannon, divestment field organizer with CA Student Sustainability Coalition.

CSU Chico has participated in many environmental resolutions in the past, including the Talloires Declaration in 2002, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007, and a Climate Action Plan in May 2011 in which they committed to achieving climate neutrality by the year 2030.

“The decision made in Chico today reverberates loud and clear here at the climate talks in Líma,” said Communications Director Jamie Henn, who is attending the COP20 climate talks in Líma, Peru. “The divestment movement has helped reshape the global debate on climate change, pushing countries to confront the real source of the problem: the fossil fuel industry. For the first time, the draft treaty under negotiation contains the goal of completely phasing out fossil fuels by 2050. Students have put the fossil fuel industry on notice–now, it’s time for the world to put them out of business.”

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