OSU Divest, a faculty-led group that wants Oregon State University’s foundation to rid itself of investments in fossil fuel companies, made an 18-minute presentation Thursday before the Faculty Senate.

Ken Winograd and Mike O’Malley (College of Education), Glencora Borradaile (College of Engineering) and professor emeritus Richard Clinton all spoke on various aspects of the campaign.

Ken Winograd and Mike O’Malley (College of Education), Glencora Borradaile (College of Engineering) and professor emeritus Richard Clinton all spoke on various aspects of the campaign.

Winograd noted that his group’s resolution, which aims to put the Faculty Senate on record as favoring the divestment plan, “was a different breed of cat. But the Senate is a forum to share concerns from all parts of the faculty.”

Concerns shared by the group included the impact of fossils fuels on climate change, how members feel divestment matches OSU’s core values and how much oil, gas and coal firms spend on lobbying ($440,000 per day, according to OSU Divest).

Winograd noted the history of divestment movements sparked by universities and faith groups: the Quakers and slavery in the mid-18th century, Dow Chemical (napalm) during the Vietnam, South Africa during apartheid and Sudan in 2006.

“Our goal is to make the fossil fuel industry highly visible,” Winograd said. “We want to stigmatize them and make a moral statement. If OSU were to divest it would have an electric effect on our peers.

“We can make a difference.”

It’s not clear yet what the Faculty Senate thinks of the campaign. No one in the audience of more than 50 (there are 132 senators) asked a question of the group.

“I think it’s still new to people,” said O’Malley, although he and another member of the group, OSU sustainability coordinator Brandon Trelstad, expressed surprised that their proposal drew neither questions nor debate.

An earlier meeting with the senate’s executive committee, Trelstad said, resulted in some “pretty tough questions.”

OSU Divest is hoping to schedule some on-campus informational forums before the Faculty Senate’s scheduled Dec. 12 vote.

OSU Foundation officials have met with OSU Divest but have not taken a position on the campaign. The foundation manages $600 million in assets, of which 6 percent ($36 million) are in fossil fuels.

The OSU campaign is part of a national effort organized by the climate change group 350.org.

Eight colleges and universities and numerous cities, including Eugene, Portland and Seattle, have made commitments to divest, according to 350.org.

The legislative branch of the Associated Students of Oregon State University also is studying a divestment resolution, ASOSU Preisdent Brett Deadon advised the Faculty Senate.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

(1) comment


Hmmm, I wonder how many OSU School of Engineering alumni work in the fossil fuel industry Ms. Borradaile? How about OSU School of Engineering alumni that work in industries that support fossil fuel exploration and development? One too many levels of separation for you? MB.

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