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SA votes in favor of fossil fuel divestment

The SA voted unanimously Monday in favor of divesting holdings in the University's endowment from fossil fuels. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
The SA voted unanimously Monday in favor of divesting holdings in the University’s endowment from fossil fuels. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, at 3:53 p.m.

The Student Association Senate voted in favor of divesting the University’s holdings in fossil fuels Monday night.

The senate voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, which called for GW to remove all fossil fuel investments from its the endowment.

In 2015, the senate voted in favor of allowing students to vote on whether or not GW should divest its fossil fuel holdings. More than 70 percent of students who voted in the 2015 SA elections supported the divestment referendum, but officials said in the spring that they would not divest those holdings.

At least seven students spoke in favor of the measure, saying GW should act as an example to other universities when it comes to green initiatives.

Frank Fritz, an organizer for Fossil Free GW, said fossil fuel divestment is time sensitive because the damage done to the environment by fossil fuels is increasing for each generation.

“It is quite often said that we will be the first generation to directly feel the effects of climate change and we are the last ones who can do anything about it,” Fritz said.

Fritz added that GW should stand against the fossil fuel industry as a matter of principle to encourage other companies and universities to do so as well.

Sen. Logan Malik, U-at-Large, said the resolution calls for the University to commit to divest those holdings and pledge to never again to invest in fossil fuels. He cited GW’s mission statement, which states that the institution is dedicated “to furthering human well-being” as a reason why the University should divest.

“I believe and the students believe that we are violating our University mission statement,” Malik said.

Sen. Nick Pasko, ESIA-U, said the point of the resolution is to encourage a dialogue with administrators.

“This resolution is intended to stand in solidarity with the vast majority of students who want this issue addressed by their student leaders,” Pasko said.

SA President Erika Feinman also spoke in favor of the measure, saying senators should support the bill because D.C.’s pension fund voted over the summer to divest its fossil fuel investments.

“It is very important that GW join with the city on important issues,” Feinman said.

The senate also added six new members, three by secret ballot and three approved in uncontested elections.

Patrick Nordstrom ran on affordability, divestment, gender-neutral bathrooms, and improved representation for transfer students, and was chosen to fill the vacant U-at-Large seat.

Apsara Sankar ran on altering the amount of required courses in the first year development program at the business school. She will fill the SoB-U seat.

Michael Guest, who serves for the United States Capitol Police, ran on increasing security. He will fill the CPS-U seat.

Three uncontested seats were also filled by Aishwarya Khurana for the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Megan Robinson for the law school and Nicole Oli the Milken Institute School of Public Health and Human Services in uncontested races.

The senate also voted to turn the undergraduate seat for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences into another U-at-Large seat, citing the small number of students in that program and the large amount of interest from undergraduates in other programs joining the senate.

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