Stanford Alumni Refuse To Donate Money Until School Purges Oil Assets

(REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Anti-fossil fuel protesters at Stanford University have pledged to withhold donations to the university until it purges its $22.2 billion endowment from the oil industry.

A pledge to not donate until Stanford sells off its massive endowment from the oil and gas industries has more than 1,000 signatures from students and alumni.

The promise to withhold donations may be an empty gesture, as most Stanford graduates will be saddled with massive amounts of debt after graduation, meaning they are unlikely to donate any amount of money for several years.

Many Stanford graduate uses various financial tools to adjust the average $75,000 in debt they accumulate over the course of their collegiate career. It costs, on average, nearly $65,000 per year to attend Stanford.

Nevertheless, the Ivy League student protesters, full of vim and vigor, seem adamant about the pledge.

“By withholding my Senior Gift and all future donations until Stanford divests from fossil fuels, I am not simply expressing my dissatisfaction with Stanford; rather I am expressing hope that I can one day donate to a school whose investments match my values,” Stanford freshman Zhanpei Fang said in a press statement Sunday.

Student officials said activists from Fossil Free Stanford kick-started the campaign Friday, stringing three massive banners from the student union building during the school’s annual senior gift announcements, protesting the school’s recent decision not to divest.

The Board of Trustees established an Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing (APIRL) in April to help the board determine whether to sell off oil assets. APIRL is composed of faculty members, college students, alumni and staff.

The group concluded, “That it could not evaluate whether the social injury caused by the fossil fuel industry outweighs the social benefit it provides,” so it advised the school refrain from shaking off fossil fuels. The board subsequently agreed with APIRL’s position.

“Despite the progress being made,” the board said about its campaign to move to renewable energy, “at the present moment oil and gas remain integral components of the global economy, essential to the daily lives of billions of people in both developed and emerging economies.”

Student protesters were not alone in their condemnation of Stanford — billionaire eco-liberal and alum Tom Steyer sits on the school’s board and was equally irate at Stanford’s decision to keep fossil fuels.

“I strongly disagree with Stanford’s decision not to divest from fossil fuels,” Steyer said in a statement to reporters in response to the decision. “Climate change is truly the challenge of our generation, which is why I have long publicly supported divestment from fossil fuels and continue to do so.”

Steyer said he remains “confident that Stanford will continue to push to accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy.”

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