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Students lobby UM to divest from fossil fuels

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

A student group is lobbying the University of Michigan to divest in fossil fuels, joining a national movement arguing it is wrong for institutions of higher education to profit from companies linked to climate change.

Students are working at major universities to get their schools to stop including gas, oil and coal companies in their investment portfolios.

At hundreds of colleges across the country, students and faculty have put pressure on their leaders to divest but only some have responded to various degrees, including Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Green Mountain College in Vermont and Pitzer College in California.

Stanford University in California was the first major university to make a move earlier this year, when it announced it would divest it $18.7 billion endowment from coal companies.

But the movement is spreading to other major universities such as Washington D.C.-based American University, which will announce a decision Friday after a vote Thursday by its Board of Trustees. Wednesday, students filed a lawsuit against Harvard University in Massachusettes.

“The fossil fuel divestment movement is particularly escalating on college and university campuses where students are rising for a better world that they know is possible,” said Lindsay Meiman, spokeswoman for the global Fossil Free campaign.

UM has divested twice, from South African and tobacco companies decades ago, according to spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.