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Stanford alumni interrupted an annual senior gift announcement at Stanford University on Friday afternoon, vowing to holdback donations to the university until it rids itself of billions of dollars’ worth of oil investments.
The anti-oil protestors known as Fossil Free Stanford, have so far garnered over 1000 signatures from Stanford students and alumni—all who have declared their intent not to make further donations until Stanford divests itself of $22.2 billion in endowments from the oil and gas industry.
The donation freeze comes after a long-winded campaign by Fossil Free Stanford to encourage the university to divest itself of oil and gas assets in an effort to battle climate change.
In late April, Stanford’s Board of Trustees reiterated their intent to hold onto the oil investments, but announced that it would create a new climate taskforce (not climate change taskforce) to generate other ways to address climate change.
Stanford invested in three separate oil and gas companies near the end of 2014, after committing to divesting itself from tar sands and coal, including an $18.7 billion endowment in Marcellus Shale fracker Rex Energy Corp., and shares valued at $11.1 million in YPF SA and scandal-laden Petrobras Argentina SA.
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Stanford is not the first university to fall prey to divestment crusaders, which began picking up serious steam in 2015 when Syracuse University divested itself—after an 18-day sit-in by protestors called Divest SU—from fossil fuels, representing the largest college endowment fund to do so. The oil divestment movement received even more attention after claiming victory when multiple Rockefeller-family funds—a family who made its fortune on the backs of Standard Oil and ExxonMobil—moved to shed its oil investments.
According to 350.org head Bill McKibben, at least 500 institutions representing $3.4 trillion in assets have divested themselves of fossil fuels.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for US-based Divergente LLC consulting firm, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.