Harvard is supposed to be one of the bastions of intelligence in America, but the Ivy League university not only continues to invest in the fossil fuel industry, its actually increasing the amount of money it pours into big oil — by a lot.
As The Guardian reported, Harvard has “increased its holdings in publicly traded oil and gas companies by a factor of seven” during the last fiscal quarter of 2014. Its investments in these industries, “including those involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and fracking,” increased from just under $12 million to nearly $80 million, according to the university’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This continued support of non-renewable, climate-change-causing industries has resulted in anger from both faculty and students, and calls from both groups for Harvard to divest its money from oil and gas holdings.
“That’s blood money,” said Jim Recht, an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School and a supporter of the divestment campaign. “It is making money out of something we see as fundamentally illicit.”
Last year, seven students filed a lawsuit against the university that said Harvard’s investments in fossil fuels is an “abdication of its responsibilities to current and future generations of students.”
“We are saying that investment in fossil fuels amounts to mismanagement of public charitable funds,” said Alice Cherry, one of the students who brought forth the suit. “The language of the charter says that Harvard needs to protect the education and advancement of youth so that’s something we think is inconsistent with fossil fuel investments.”
Faculty members have also formally expressed their outrage to the university, sending a petition that says this investment increase “puts the university out of step” with other organizations and universities, like Stanford and the Rockefellers, that have pulled their money out of fossil fuels, reported The Guardian.
The petition reads,
“In striking contrast to these other institutions, Harvard has newly invested tens of millions in publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Can putting tens of millions in [these companies] be regarded as responsible sustainable investing – investing that befits a charitable corporation dedicated to scientific truth and ethical education? Such investments … signify an investment policy that is profoundly indifferent to its consequences.
We are among a growing number of concerned faculty who question the idea that investment returns are justified at any cost, including the enormous cost our students and future generations will need to pay for what the fossil fuel industry is doing now and – more importantly – for what it is planning and lobbying to do, with writing checks to political organizations as a key part of that planning.”
The university’s administration apparently doesn’t see it that way. Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s president, has said in the past that the investment “is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”