By HOPE RACINE
On Wednesday, March 18, the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors voted to deny the creation of a subcommittee to investigate university divestment from fossil fuels.
The vote followed DivestUMW’s presentation at the February BOV meeting, when they urged members to explore options for divestment.
Multiple students supported the club’s efforts, as well as UMW President Rick Hurley, who stated that he believed the school should look into divestment.
“I support the establishment of a subcommittee to provide the opportunity for members of the Board to gather more information about the divest movement and its implications for UMW,” said Hurley in an email to The Blue & Gray Press on Tuesday, March 17 ahead of the vote.
After the vote, DivestUMW members gathered outside the BOV meeting in order to ask BOV Rector Holly Cuellar about the decision.
“We want to ask why the BOV is rejecting the voice of our students, our president and thousands of voices in the community,” said DivestUMW member Zakaria Kronemer.
“As a board, we are dedicated to green initiatives, and we have been working with [DivestUMW] for a year. We do not, and I will repeat, directly invest in fossil fuels,” said Cuellar, speaking to the group following the meeting. “We are looking to make the maximum return on our endowment so that we can continue to support scholarships and academic programs here at the university.”
Cuellar declined further comment.
“They [the BOV] apparently concluded that they’d learned enough about the subject,” said Hurley after the vote. “They have concluded that they’ve talked about it enough, understand the issue, understand the request, but don’t feel that there’s much more that they want to say or do about it because their ultimate financial responsibility is they get the maximum return on investment for the institution.”
Hurley echoed the BOV’s dedication to green initiatives as well.
“We don’t divest directly in any fossil fuel companies, and they [the BOV] believe strongly in the sustainable issues that the University is doing and are helping the cause,” said Hurley.