Almost exactly one year after members of DivestUMW began to sit-in outside of their President’s Office in George Washington Hall, the President’s Council on Sustainability has released their highly anticipated report strongly recommending that the University divest its endowment away from fossil fuel companies. The report recommends one of two options: 1) 99% divestment from fossil fuel companies, or 2) 98% divestment, the standard used by the Union of Concerned Scientists. This report reaffirms both the financial feasibility and the ethical necessity for divestment at Mary Washington. On March 18th, 2015 the Board of Visitors refused the creation of a subcommittee leading to the occupation of George Washington Hall for three weeks, broken only by the arrests of two students and one community member. This action led to the creation of a subcommittee to explore the issue of divestment, the product of which is the aforementioned report. Operating with the information given in this report, the BOV has an obligation to act on this issue in the form of a vote at their next public Board meeting on April 14th-15th, 2016. The Board has a responsibility to reflect the academic research of students, faculty, and their own members, as well as allowing students to continue being a part of this process. “Students have started and continued this conversation at Mary Washington and in Virginia as a whole. We have a right to be present and accounted for in these conversations. The Board has a responsibility to hold itself accountable to its students, and they can do this by having a vote on divestment at their public meeting in April.” – Drew Shannon, freshman. “Our power as students comes from our abilities to mobilize and create conversations regarding the ethical implications of the actions of our University. Student power is the driving force behind not just the creation but the distribution of the report itself. We want to see a vote in April because we need to know that we are not just being heard but listened to, as well. We, as students and activists, have put our bodies and futures on the line for this issue. We are seeing fossil fuel companies harm our communities and the communities of others, and the Board and Administration of Mary Washington has a need to act in ways that will put themselves on the right side of history.” – Noah Goodwin, sophomore.
Some key points from the PCS report are shown below.