Princeton's Board of Trustees voted that the university will dissociate from 90 fossil fuel companies and divest from all publicly traded fossil fuel companies.
In a press release, the Princeton Office of Communications wrote that the decision to eliminate all holding in these publicly traded companies is part of its goal to "achiev[e] a net-zero endowment portfolio over time," adding that the Princeton University Investment Company will “ensure that the endowment does not benefit from any future exposure to those companies.”
According to The Daily Princetonian, the dissociation will affect many parts of the university's operations, such as the loss of energy-related research funding, but the university administration has endorsed the establishment of new funds.
Dissociation — which Princeton will carry out with companies such as Exxon Mobil and NRG Energy involved in the thermal coal and tar sands industries — is defined by the school as a step further than divestment. The term includes avoiding any financial relationship — such as accepting grants and purchasing products from the company, according to the University.
At Princeton, student activism related to fossil fuels has a lengthy history. Just last week, the student group Divest Princeton held a protest calling for divestment.
Divest Princeton called the decision an "important first step" in a Twitter statement.
"Change is possible. We are so proud of the decade of activism by Princeton students, faculty, and alumni that led to this decision," the group wrote.
At Penn, Fossil Free Penn has conducted similar efforts. Currently, the group is continuing an “indefinite encampment” to urge the administration to meet its demands, which include divestment from fossil fuel companies, as well as preserving the University City Townhomes.
Last November, Penn claimed it would halt commitments to private equity vehicles dedicated to investments in fossil fuel production. Student activists in groups including FFP said that they considered it a step forward, but argued that it did not go far enough — adding that Penn can still invest in fossil fuel companies with the use of mixed funds, and such a claim did not stop Penn from benefiting from the fossil fuel industry.