Student group pushes St. Olaf to divest from fossil fuel companies

Last year, a student group at St. Olaf took action to push the school to divest from fossil fuel companies.  Here is a portion of the article from the Manitou Messenger.

The Climate Justice Collective (CJC) is a new student group dedicated to increasing awareness about climate issues and pushing St. Olaf to divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies and reinvest those funds in socially responsible corporations. Formed Feb. 20, the group evolved from what used to be Divest St. Olaf, a student organization that also pushed for divestment.

St. Olaf’s endowment currently stands at about $520 million. Around 8.4 percent of endowment assets are invested in energy companies, according to Assistant Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Mark Gelle. In 2016, St. Olaf had invested over a million dollars in ExxonMobil, Chevron and Schlumberger, respectively, though Gelle said current investments are substantially different.

“Investing money in fossil fuel companies not only supports them financially but also morally,” CJC member Isaac Nelson ’21 said. “It is important that St. Olaf divests from fossil fuels because it sends a message that we do not support an industry that jeopardizes the wellbeing of future generations and the planet in exchange for short-term profit.”

One of CJC’s primary concerns about St. Olaf’s current investment policy regards the College’s January 2018 hiring of the investment firm CornerStone Partners.  St. Olaf no longer publicly discloses its various investment managers or specific investments because CornerStone Partners considers this information proprietary.

Making the investments visible “is the only way that you can make sure those investments are ethical,” CJC member Abby Becker ’21 said.

“Under the Admissions tab on the St. Olaf website it says ‘Oles are the people the planet needs,'” Nelson said. “If this school is truly interested in what the planet needs, it will divest. We believe that St. Olaf has a responsibility to its past, present, and future students to do so.”

Read the whole story from the Manitou Messenger.