College Divestment Update 2017

The fossil fuel divestment campaigns at our local colleges have been on a roll! In May, the Board of Directors at Portland Community College passed a resolution that makes them the first 2-year college in the state of Oregon to commit to fossil fuels divestment. The college does not currently hold any investments in coal, oil or natural gas companies, but the new policy ensures that college funds will not be invested in these companies in the future.

The resolution names the Carbon Underground 200, an index of the top 100 coal and top 100 oil and natural gas companies with the highest reserves, as its definition of fossil fuel divestment. Divestment campaigns across the globe are using the Carbon Underground 200 list as their priority for divestment.

The policy change was pioneered by Alex Bell-Johnson, the student body president of PCC’s Cascade campus, and Briar Schoon, PCC’s college sustainability manager, along with other students, staff and the divestment team at 350PDX.

PCC is the largest higher-learning institution in Oregon, with over 78,000 students. Its current endowment is around $200 million. Despite the large amount of money that PCC invests, the new policy won’t create any immediate financial changes and serves only as an accountability measure, as none of that $200 million is currently invested with the Carbon Underground 200.

In other news, Lewis and Clark College has made headway into a divestment policy of their own. Last spring, the Board of Directors at Lewis and Clark met with representatives of SEED (Students Engaged in Eco-Defense), who presented a petition for the campus to divest from fossil fuels.

As reported in The Source, a Lewis and Clark publication, “The committee voted to discontinue new investments in fossil fuels and to form an ad hoc committee composed of trustees, students, faculty, and staff to address a divestment process.” So far, nothing concrete has been announced, but we hope to find out more details of their divestment process by the end of this year.

Students at Willamette University have been putting pressure on their Board of Trustees to move towards divestment. Although the board has not yet made any commitments, they said that they are exploring options. And just recently, students at Reed College have reinitiated a divestment campaign at their campus.

The divestment team at 350PDX would love to see all of the colleges in the Portland Metro area work towards divestment resolutions. Are you a college student? Is your campus divested? If not, let us know and we would love to help you get a campaign started.