We are still waiting for an answer.
If I understand correctly, your active title is Chair of Committee Investments for the UC Regents. That is, you run the meetings several regents and advisors attend to discuss where to invest the UC’s money.
It is my understanding the UC’s money, specifically its endowment, is worth approximately 90 billion dollars. Of the 90 billion dollars, 10 percent (9 billion dollars) is invested in “energy companies.” To be fair, “energy companies” can mean a lot of different things: renewable energy, alternative energy or 5-hour ENERGY. That being said, it is estimated that of the said 9 billion dollars, roughly 3 billion is invested in big oil and gas companies, a rough estimate, of course, because the UC’s office has refused to disclose the exact amount. Feel free to confirm.
I want to note that in September 2015, after two years of pressure from UC students, the UC sold off roughly 200 million dollars worth of coal and tar sands investments, a remarkable achievement. And though I don’t want to take away from the significance of said divestiture, I’d argue it’s becoming a monotonous statistic, appearing in every UC school paper’s article about divestment.
We’re clinging onto it. We can no longer beat our chests, and the 200 million dollars can no longer be a “look what we did!” boast. If we want to talk numbers, it was 7 percent of the estimated 3 billion dollars. We still invest 2.8 billion dollars in fossil fuels.
I would also like to quickly note that following the 200-million-dollar divestment, the UC’s Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bacher was quoted saying, “institutions that ignore societal values in their investment strategy imperil their bottom line — today and for years to come.” It is time for us all to admit that investments in oil and gas companies fundamentally ignore our societal values. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read the article. Here’s the link: http://www.independent.com/news/2015/sep/17/beyond-divestment/. The irony is remarkable.
We’re a school system that takes great pride in our efforts to be green, efficient leaders in sustainability and renewable energy, from what we study in the classroom to the classroom itself. We also take immense pride in our diversity. We take pride in embracing all races, sexes, religions and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We are taught to abhor discrimination, eliminate pollution and help build a brighter future.
Yet the university I received an email from on Nov. 9 attempting to comfort me and remind me of my on-campus safe space locations, to reassure me the UC cherishes its diversity and in no way condones racism, sexism, misogyny, etc. voluntarily supports an industry that actively discriminates against, takes advantage of, pollutes and destroys marginalized communities within our state, across our country and around the world. Investments in fossil fuels stand against everything the UC stands for.
I’m a fourth-year environmental studies student here at UCSB. I am and will forever be grateful to my parents and this university for the opportunities they have given me — to study, learn and grow as a person here. I take pride in my university, my home for the last four years. I take pride in my major, my involvement in Fossil Free UCSB and the knowledge I have gained from the amazing courses and thought-provoking, incredible professors here.
I want future generations of students to encounter what I have been so fortunate to experience. Regrettably, I would argue that because of our unsustainable investments in fossil fuels, this experience is in jeopardy.
It simply puzzles me that all of this pride and leadership finds itself invested in industries we as a university educate and stand against. Nearly 700 UC faculty members have signed a petition stating investments in fossil fuels are no longer acceptable. Three UC faculty senates and six associated student senates, representing hundreds of faculty and tens of thousands of students, have called upon the UC to divest.
Just last week UCSB’s own student senate has reaffirmed its commitment to fossil fuel divestment. I know it will not be easy, and I know it cannot happen overnight, but we must begin the process of full divestment from fossil fuels. If we want to take pride in something — if we want to be leaders in something — let it be that.
Mr. Sherman, Fossil Free UCSB has presented you with a choice. You can stand with students, our future and all the values of this great university and divest from fossil fuels. Or you can stand with oil and gas companies, who threaten not only my future and future generations but also communities up and down the state of California today. What you can’t do is both. So I will ask again: Whose side are you on?
I hope you will not only stand with us, but act. We must not do what is easy, but what is right.
The ball is in your court, Regent Sherman. All of us are watching.