Students are rallying to reinvest Penn’s endowment.
The divestment club Fossil Free Penn had their first meeting of the year on Sept. 25, in Harrison College House. The club demands that the University freeze new investments in fossil fuels, divest their current investments and reinvest their money in sustainable companies or projects.
“Penn’s endowment, which is $9.6 billion, is partially invested in the fossil fuel industry,” club coordinator and sophomore Peter Thacher said. . “The fossil fuel industry is responsible for a tremendous amount of harm, presently and in the future because of climate change.”
The club feels that their goals are reasonable, because universities such as Stanford University have recently divested from fossil fuel investments as well.
“We’re not asking Penn to do anything drastic, like reinvest all their money or things like that, so I think that it’s definitely [goals] that are achievable,” club member and College sophomore Sophia Elliot said.
Club coordinator and Engineering and Wharton sophomore Thomas Lee said that Penn should consider ethics when investing money.
“We shouldn’t be hypocritical and contradicting what we’re learning ethically in the classrooms and what we’re doing with the money that supports our classrooms,” he said. “In this position of privilege, I have a moral responsibility to care and do something about it.”
One of the issues that the club faces is that Penn’s investments are not made completely public, and many of the investments are in commingled funds so the club does not know the specific companies that are invested in.
“Transparency is something that we are still thinking about as a campaign,” Thacher said. “Whether we will need to ask for [Penn] to publicize all of their investments right now in the fossil fuel industry to get them to divest is something we are still figuring out right now.”
The beginning of the club was announced at the People’s Climate March. Fossil Free Penn is a new version of the Divestment at Penn club , which was beginning to become inactive, according to Thacher. The next meeting is tentatively set for 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, in the Harrison Seminar Room.
“Hopefully Penn will see that what we’re asking them to do is not going to undermine their economic endeavors,” Elliot said.
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