Last week, the University of Minnesota became the third Big Ten school to declare its intention to disinvest in fossil fuels. Pressure from students had been growing and the administration finally recognized and agreed with the arguments being placed before them. The Gophers will now make no direct investment in fossil-fuel-related companies or make new investments in markets heavily influenced by fossil fuels. They intend to shift current investments either outside of the energy sector or into clean energy.
If the Gophers can do it, the Huskers can — and should — too. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln should not be the sixth, eighth or even tenth Big Ten school to join the movement. They should be next in line. UNL must pledge to withdraw current investments in fossil fuels. Not just for their students now, but for generations of students to come.
The divestment — or disinvestment — movement is not new to UNL students. Beginning in Jan. 2020, the Divest NU movement has been advocating for the UNL to take the step to divest from fossil fuels officially. While student efforts culminated in a change to NU’s investment policy, the university failed to commit to divesting fully. According to UNL’s sustainability page, UNL still has $91.3 million invested in fossil fuels. The Divest NU movement continues to advocate for its goals, but thus far, it seems no further progress has been made.
As part of UNL’s N2025 Strategic Plan, the university aims to “focus research … to solve challenges critical to Nebraska and the World.” Seven of these challenges were defined, including climate resilience. By choosing not to divest from fossil fuels, UNL is projecting a contradictory message. The university acknowledges the impact and challenge of climate change, yet will not take all available avenues to help mitigate the effects. NU’s sustainability and climate change mitigation efforts seem to be done to preserve an image and fulfill these goals on the surface, without making every attempt to create powerful and meaningful change.
Not only is UNL not sticking to its own values, but they are ignoring the cries of their students and students across the Big Ten. Clearly, with the presence and longevity of the Divest NU movement, there are students passionate about this topic here on our campus. Not only that, the voices of 500,000 students were represented by Big Ten student body presidents when the Association of Big Ten Students passed a resolution in Feb. 2020 calling for the divestment of fossil fuels by all Big Ten schools. As a public institution, UNL should serve the interests of its students or, at the very least, listen to their voices. But nearly two years into the movement, investment in fossil fuels remains.
It is understandable that the university’s investments are aimed at…
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