Climate activists at Cornell University have “escalated” their demands and are giving university officials until February to divest from all companies dealing in fossil fuels.
According to The Cornell Daily Sun, if this and other imperatives aren’t met, activists will disrupt “business as usual” until they are met.
The coalition of organizations, including Climate Justice Cornell, the Cornell Young Democratic Socialists of America, the Vegan Society, and the Ithaca chapter of the Extinction Rebellion, also want Cornell to
* declare a climate emergency that prioritizes Cornell’s current and future investments, policies, and projects;
* mandate University media platforms share Cornell’s global CO2 parts per million on a monthly basis, recognizing the University’s role in a global crisis;
* publicly release the University’s endowment investment portfolio;
* establish a mandatory orientation workshop that educates students about indigenous and colonial history of the land upon which Cornell lies.
Activist Gregory Randazzo told The Sun that their demonstrations are “explicitly anti-capitalist.” It’s “eco-socialism or extinction,” he said.
Regardless of student sentiment about capitalism, students said that the unhappiness of environmentally minded alumni may not bode well for the university’s bottom line.
“I will not donate to the university until they divest,’’ Sheila Out ’72, an Ithaca resident and Cornell alumna who attended the rally, told The Sun.
As the rules currently stand, the process for implementing divestment will be complex. In 2016, the Cornell Chronicle reported on the new standard that the Cornell University Board of Trustees approved to guide its divestment decisions.
According to the Chronicle, the board’s current standard is that divestment will only occur when a company’s actions are “morally reprehensible” and divestment will have a real impact on the issue at hand without too many unintended consequences, or when the company contributes to a problem so serious it conflicts with the university’s goals and principles.
The Sun notes that as the climate coalition has grown, so too has the list of mandates. For instance, this one has to be from the Vegan Society: “Ensure all areas of campus have at least one affordable, accessible plant-based protein source for every meal, everyday and implement Meatless Monday.”
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