Vanderbilt University officially strives to “achieve the highest standards of sustainability through a process of environmental responsibility and accountability at every level of University activity.” This includes our endowment.
Vanderbilt Student Government has already recognized that divestment would help achieve our sustainability mission, and passed a resolution calling on the Office of Investments to gradually divest from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in sustainable technologies. This great news shows that the voice of the student body is firmly behind taking the next step toward becoming a more sustainable university, at every level. We have launched Reinvest Vanderbilt, a coalition of student environmental groups, to advocate for the VSG resolution. We will continue our efforts by working with the administration in any way possible. Together, students have the opportunity of a lifetime to help Vanderbilt reinvest in a sustainable future.
Peer institutions such as Harvard University, Tufts University, Swarthmore College, Middlebury College, Bryn Mawr College, the University of North Carolina and Bowdoin College are already considering divestment; Harvard’s student body and student government both voted in favor of a resolution similar to the one passed by VSG. Vanderbilt is now well-placed to take the lead in this movement and serve as a national role model for other universities.
Vanderbilt has been an environmental leader in recent years, building LEED-certified facilities, implementing a Green Fund to fund sustainable student-designed projects, and even offering a new minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. The university was awarded a well-deserved place on The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll.
With VSG’s action last week, Vanderbilt has leaped to the forefront of action on sustainable investments. If the Office of Investments decides to follow through on the student senate’s request, it would solidify Vanderbilt’s newfound position at the vanguard of sustainability in higher education.
— Michael Diamond, Katie Ullmann and Skyler Hutto are co-founders of Reinvest Vanderbilt, a coalition of student environmental groups advocating for divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in sustainable technologies. They can be reached at email@example.com.