BY ANNA STEENSON
The Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) brought a divestment referendum to Student Senate on Thursday, urging Drake to divest in fossil fuels.
Senate passed the motion in support of the referendum.
The referendum needed 500 signatures to bring to Senate, a threshold that it surpassed by 145.
Now the referendum will move to Faculty Senate before being brought to the Board of Trustees.
In order to inform the student body, DEAL held an event on March 29. Seven students gathered at Pomerantz Stage to learn about this divestment initiative.
During the divestment discussion, the DEAL leaders, including president Shereen Hunitie, talked about the impact fossil fuels have on our earth.
Fossil fuels are most commonly found in three major types: coal, oil and natural gas. They are commonly used because they have a high energy density.
However, fossil fuels are nonrenewable because they take billions of years to form. Fossil fuels are the main emitter of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
“Drake invests 1.46 percent of its endowment in fossil fuels. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that is $2.7 million,” said Gabriella LeFevre, DEAL’s divestment committee leader. “Calling for divestment is more of a symbolic move and support against fossil fuels which hurt the economy as well as the environment. It would support more renewable and sustainable companies.”
LeFevre said investing in fossil fuels is starting to be an economic issue. Instead, she thinks investments should be placed in the environmental future.
“Generally speaking, a lot of green energy companies are doing economically well and they are drawing a lot of attention which is attention that is being drawn away from fossil fuels,” LeFevre said. “There is a strong indicator that green energy companies will be more fiscally beneficial because people are starting to support the moral reason for divestment.”
Drake University’s Sustainability Committee has created a Climate Action Plan, last updated in 2013, that works to “minimize Drake’s environmental impact in every way we can,” according to the report published on Drake’s website.
DEAL is calling on Drake to divest from fossil fuels to provide for a sustainable future and to minimize the negative impact Drake has on the environment.
The call for divestment starts with the signatures from Drake’s students. It is important that the students take initiative in providing for their generation’s sustainable future, LeFevre said.
First-year Abigail Wallner, who attended DEAL’s event, said she supported the initiative.
“We’re moving forward, we’re being sustainable and realistic about what is happening to the environment and that is really important,” Wallner said.
At other universities, including Georgetown University and the University of Dayton, students have called for fossil fuel divestment as well.
According to the National Association of Scholars as of Sept 2015, 44 colleges and universities have divested from fossil fuels. 29 are in the United States.
Divesting from fossil fuels is a tricky and lengthy process for a university.
“Drake staff share concern but also tell us that it is a complex issue,” Hunitie said.