As ASSU Executives, we are charged with representing a campus of outstanding students who pursue a variety of passions and come from diverse backgrounds. Our commitment to advocating on behalf of students is deeply-held. Knowing that the student body stands firmly opposed to continued investment in oil and gas, and in tar sands, makes it impossible for us to remain silent in response to the Board of Trustees’ recent decisions regarding our University’s investments.
Though we are disappointed by the Trustees’ decision to continue endowment investments in the oil and gas industry and to refrain from full divestment from tar sands, we remain hopeful that future decisions will more closely align with the concerns and sentiments of the Stanford student body. Time and again, students and faculty have expressed their support for University investments that reflect Stanford’s dedication to ethical and responsible actions. Our voices grow stronger as our efforts continue.
Stanford University is renowned for its innovative culture, a culture that encourages our community to think and act with the future in mind. Stanford’s investment portfolio is one of the few conspicuous areas where we fail to meet our founding ideals of moral and civic community.
The ecological and social harm caused by oil and gas is incontrovertible; every corner of our planet feels these changes, large and small. The effects of climate change and ecological degradation most severely impact the world’s most vulnerable populations, rapidly altering lifestyles in ways that degrade the human condition. Preventing climate change is not simply about saving trees; it is about saving human lives. And while we at Stanford may have the privilege to shield ourselves from the tangible impacts of harmful environmental practices while we are on campus, many students’ communities are suffering. Furthermore, we may not be protected in the future. We have a duty to respond to the scientific evidence for climate change and its impacts, and act in accordance with what our conscience has known all along. We have never been, nor will we ever be, protected from the blows to our institution’s moral character.
Over 450 members of the faculty and thousands of students who call Stanford home have pushed for an investment policy that reflects our beliefs as a community. It is time for our calls to be answered with action on the part of a University that purports to represent us and a Board of Trustees that is supposed to act with the future in mind. Stanford, our University, proclaims to be a leader within the global community — it is time for us to lead on an issue that unites us all.
– Jackson Beard ’17 (ASSU President 2016-17), Amanda Edelman ’17 (ASSU Vice President 2016-17), John-Lancaster Finley ’16 (ASSU President 2015-16), Brandon Hill ’16 (ASSU Vice President 2015-16)