Display the kind of responsibility that will benefit our university, community, region, and world –S.A.V.E. to VSU Foundation

A copy of what the VSU Foundation called the “ “well-intentioned request” by Students Against Violating the Environment (S.A.V.E.). I added the links and images. -jsq

October 17, 2013

Dear VSU Foundation and Board of Trustees,

Recent years have brought climate change to the forefront of public discussion. A newly released report from the United Nations indicates with 95% certainty that humans are the primary cause of the issue. It is our concern that the continuation of our current practices and our dependence on fossil fuels will only result in continued environmental degradation and human struggle. Knowing the impact that anthropogenic climate change has upon our environment, our health, and our economy, we are asking Valdosta State University to take a stand and join in the effort to address this issue, as social responsibility is part and parcel to the role of public institutions.

As a public institution, Valdosta State University has a responsibility to shape the debate about climate change through its voice, and fossil fuel divestment is another medium for that voice. We are asking that VSU immediately freeze any new investments in the fossil fuel industry and commit to a plan to divest all of its holdings in fossil fuels within five years. We have included a list of the 200 largest fossil fuel extraction companies from which we are asking to divest. Subsequently, we request that the VSU Foundation consider reinvesting those funds in renewable energy options (e.g. venture capital) or other more socially responsible companies.

Our campaign is part of an ongoing, international effort comprised of over 300 colleges as well as cities, states, and religious institutions. The belief of this movement is simple: fossil fuel extraction industries are harming the global ecology and this includes human suffering; to profit off of that suffering is wrong. By removing investments, the goal of the movement is to challenge the companies profiting at the expense of the environment to invest in the transition to a renewable energy economy.

Historically, divestment has been used as a strategy to aid various humanitarian causes. In the 1970’s, as a response to the horrific and repressive apartheid system in South Africa, 155 American universities successfully divested from companies conducting business there. That effort has been recognized as a significant contributing factor in the removal of the apartheid system. We are now asking that VSU join in a similar effort to combat global warming.

Furthermore, we believe that this initiative will assist in making VSU a leader in sustainability in the region. With the recent decline in enrollment, we believe that our campus could benefit from the positive publicity it would gain by enacting a carbon-sensitive investment portfolio. By committing to this plan, Valdosta State would become the first university in Georgia to do so. This mark of distinction is something VSU may pride itself in for years to come. We believe that the shift to more socially responsible investments would be a selling point to potential students, faculty, and staff. This, alongside the recent addition of a new solar canopy, the Tree Campus USA certification granted by the Arbor Day Foundation, and the continued effort to comply with the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, VSU could serve as a model for other schools in the region.

We hope that you will commit to this effort and display the kind of responsibility that will benefit our university, community, region, and world, as we work, collectively, to combat anthropogenic climate change.


Students Against Violating the Environment