WASHINGTON – Minutes after American University President Neil Kerwin and Board Chair Jeff Sine announced at a public forum that the school’s endowment decided not to divest from the fossil fuel industry, student activists took the floor to slam the decision and re-tell poignant personal stories on climate injustice. Calling the decision sickening and shameful, students voiced their anger with today’s announcement—and pledged to continue their fight for a fossil-free campus.
Said Anna Bonomo,American University Sophomore: “This vote doesn’t mean the end of the American University divestment campaign. It means that students and faculty will fight harder than ever before for the future we deserve.”
AU’s decision not to divest from fossil fuels comes two days after Cambridge Associates, the University’s endowment manager, announced it would support institutions looking to divest from fossil fuels by opening realistic avenues to fossil free portfolios—which proved that divestment can be financially and legally responsible.
The Board’s decision today ignores students, faculty, and Cambridge Associates, all of whom made clear they were ready for divestment. It also contradicts American University’s reputation as one of the country’s most sustainable universities.
Emily Dalgo, American University sophomore: “The Board made the wrong decision today. American University promotes itself as a socially responsible institution yet this decision sends a powerful message that our administration doesn’t embody that vision of self. I watched as the Gulf Coast was destroyed in 2010 by the fossil fuel industry, and the fact that my University is profiting from human suffering and environmental destruction makes me sick.”
Katie Kirchner, American University senior: “When student organizers met with Chairman Sine a few weeks ago he expressed commitment to divestment. Students were hopeful he would keep his word and advocate for divestment; he did not follow through with that commitment.”
Deirdre Shelly, American University Senior: “Regardless of what American University says about its sustainability initiatives, our society will never meaningfully address climate change if institutions like AU continue to invest in fossil fuels. These investments give the fossil fuel industry license to continue operating as they are now, poisoning communities and condemning us all to life on an unsafe planet.”
Anthony Torres, American University Junior: “I am ashamed that my university has decided to stand with the fossil fuel industry, instead of with students and those most impacted by the climate crisis in DC and around the world.”