HSU Helps Lead Push for Fossil-Free, Greener Investing


The reason I came to HSU is because of the reputation that the school has for being an environmentally responsible school, for being an environmental steward. That's also something I find really attractive about the university is a lot of the time universities are so divided into different departments you know, everybody has a different major and I felt that sustainability and just being green drew us all together. The students came to us probably two years ago now and it was at an Associated Students meeting I kind of expected a big shut down of the idea I expected a lot of more than hesitancy, but just complete denial from the board My first experience meeting with the board was a little nerve racking, I didn't really know what to expect. and it was interesting to me, I think they were, I think they were expecting a fight We on the Foundation Board are actually excited when students actually come and are constructively critical of what we're doing.

The only time anything ever changes is when people have an idea that they feel needs to happen and they feel something needs to change. They found out actually sitting around that board they're a lot of alumni are a lot of people who were in their shoes a generation before what we presented to them and found a good amount of support a greally great amount of support we've had a strong socially responsible investing and been for a dozen years now and we do better than most and it would have been easy for us to say that's good enough but I think thanks to the student's initiative, thanks to them shoving us a little bit we've taken the next steps so the students came to us and wanted to know how could we divest and how could we divest quickly because the concept of selling stock or selling assets seems very simple and I think good and well guided the difficulty is that it's more complex than that.

Currently, under mutual funds there's not very many products in terms of products that have that have holdings that don't have fossil fuels That's a relatively new focus right now for the market. I think in the near future we'll have a lot of products to choose from but right now it's our finance comity working with our investment brokers to figure out how, what the best strategy is. When we were introduced to the concept of Humboldt State University divesting from fossil fuels I knew it would be challenging I work with a number of institutions and I knew that this was uncharted territory and none of the other organizations I'm working with are doing this. but we were excited and we knew it would be a challenge. The board took a very bold step and actually expanding the definition of what is a concerning sector so it's not just Chevron pumping oil out of the ground It's Halliburton who sells the equipment in order to do that for fracking or for or for traditional oil extraction It's the Tesoro that does the refining somewhere so it's the full spectrum of oil production and fossil fuel production that we actually included in that definition and I think it's something that the students and the world really can be proud of for Humboldt State University to take that step I know it's going to be a very tough transition and a really slow process I think if we do it in a timely manner then we're really going to be able to succeed in this we're going to do this in a methodical and a responsible way and I think we're going to learn a lot as we go along so one of the things we wanted to do was to prove to our donors and all of those that we have been entrusted with their estates and assests that this was possible, so for them we need to take a step that step is 10% of our funds, let's try investing this way, it is enough to send a major signal and to test our policies our tactics and everything that goes along with making this big of a shift we really are tackling issues, making changes that places much larger than us with much greater flexibility than we have are not dealing with it all it's a huge change that we've made what is next for us is we're already we'll be talking to the board about some fundraising initiatives so people will be able to contribute to a totally green endowment if that's what they choose to do and then more exciting than that we're seeking private contributions for a really what's going to wind up being a campus improvement fund so there are all manner of improvements that we can make on campus that would actually make the campus more sustainable, more green and what we're working on is ways to take those contributions, make those investments capture the savings from those investments and reinvest them again in the campus this is an exciting time at Humboldt , not only are we making these investments with the endowment but we have a new president who's very receptive to all of this I'm very excited about the future for Humboldt State and the possibilities for investment here you know HSU has always had the tradition of being sensitive to the environment we have been a leader in the past with things like the graduation pledge with the idea of social responsibility so this is a natural evolution for us and it's not it's not something that we came about haphazardly it fits with the mission with the values of this place it is totally fitting and appropriate for Humboldt State to take this leadership position on this investment movement I'm proud to be at a school who's situated between the ocean and the redwoods and will always promote environmental and social responsibility and will do the right thing and send the message to our country and to the world that we must always act responsibly for the citizens of the world.