ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA GU Fossil Free led a sparsely attended rally before the Jan. 16 vote.
GU Fossil Free led a sparsely attended rally before the Jan. 16 vote.

The Center for Investments and Social Responsibility has yet to release the results of their Jan. 16 vote on divestment, leading members of GU Fossil Free to release an open letter urging CISR to respond promptly.

CISR Chair James Feinerman released a statement on the day of the scheduled vote explaining that the committee required more time before making their final recommendation.

“The Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility today had a thoughtful and engaged discussion on the Fossil Free proposal and is making progress. We continue to finalize our work and will make a public statement when our deliberations are complete,” Feinerman wrote.

Members of CISR declined to comment about the vote after Jan. 16. Additionally, the university has not commented on the delay of the vote.

GU Fossil Free released an open letter Jan. 22 admonishing CISR for its slow response.

“As of January 22 the CISR has not made public the minutes of this meeting, their final decision on GUFF’s proposal, or a specific date of release for the result of their vote,” the letter, signed by the GU Fossil Free Coalition, said. “We write this letter to communicate our expectations regarding CISR’s decision, in light of the CISR’s role in ensuring that Georgetown fully carries out its responsibilities to social justice and the common good.”

The letter also reiterates the organization’s rationale for divestment. GU Fossil Free member Patricia Cipollitti (SFS ’15) helped draft the letter and said that she hopes it will galvanize a quick response from CISR.

“We felt the need to speak with the Georgetown community about our expectations for the CISR vote and just present our rationale for divestment in terms once more and put it forth and put that in the context of the CISR vote and its results,” Cipollitti said. “We hope that other folks will join on board and support us.”

CISR’s vote came after months of negotiations between GU Fossil Free, CISR and the administration to address the issue of divestment. GU Fossil Free’s divestment proposal calls for the university to divest its holdings from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies.

CISR, which consists of 12 voting members, will give its recommendation on divestment to the university’s board of directors during its meeting in February.

In November, University President John J. DeGioia met with GU Fossil Free and informed them that CISR would give their recommendation on divestment in January, as opposed to the end of the academic year.

Regardless of the recommendation given by CISR, GU Fossil Free will be present at the board of directors’ meeting to voice their support for divestment.

Before CISR’s meeting on Friday, GU Fossil Free organized a rally outside of the McShain Lounge in order to urge CISR to vote in favor of divestment.

At the rally, GU Fossil Free organized a mock call-and-response wedding ceremony between GU Fossil Free and CISR, which included the exchanging of vows and rings. The ceremony was framed as a symbolic marriage between CISR and Georgetown’s values as an environmentally conscious university.

The rally participants sang common chants, such as “This is what democracy looks like” and “Hey CISR, it’s time that you deliver.” During the mock wedding ceremony, they also chanted “I do.” One passerby made an obscene hand gesture at the group during the protest.

GU Fossil Free and CISR member Caroline James (COL ’16) spoke to approximately 20 protesters about the significance of divestment.

“I want to see clean energy that’s available to everyone,” James said. “It made me sad to think that my education was being paid for by investments in fossil fuel companies. Why am I fighting against climate change when my education is being paid for by the people who perpetuate it?”

During the rally, James said that she did not expect CISR to vote in favor of full divestment.

“I’m anticipating that the members of CISR will divest in some capacity. I’m predicting it will be a recommendation to divest from the worst actors,” James said. “I don’t foresee them saying yes to full divestment. Even if it’s a partial yes, we are going to be disappointed without a full yes.”

Maxwell Menard (SFS ’16) said he joined the protest to demonstrate student support for GU Fossil Free.

“We want to make sure [to show CISR] that there’s large student support in favor of divestment,” Menard said.

Theo Montgomery (SFS ’18) said that another reason for divestment was the instability of fossil fuel companies’ performance on the stock market, citing the recent decrease of oil prices.

“I think this price drop has shown the volatility of oil prices, and even with how high oil production is, it is still subject to such incredible drops,” Montgomery said.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *