Student investment club divests from fossil fuels

On Thursday, Feb. 1, the student-run Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead Fund passed a proposal to divest from—or sell off shares held with—energy companies involved with fossil fuels. Motivated by the Student Sustainability Council (SSC) and Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the divestment was agreed upon as a part of the organization’s re-recognition, and sought to spark ethical considerations in the investment process.

An investment organization, the Weatherhead Fund, formerly CWRU Capital, manages the investment of a small portion of CWRU endowment funding. The organization was founded in 2011 by roughly $100,000 from several alumni. With the support of a finance professor, the Weatherhead Fund provides all CWRU students an opportunity to learn about investing and improve their financial literacy.

After completing the re-recognition process last fall, the Weatherhead Fund moved forward with the goal of divesting by 2019. However, excited by the prospect of setting an example for ethical investing, the organization has already divested from companies involved with fossil fuels.

“It wasn’t as if we were being forced to do it,” Weatherhead Fund President accounting major Sam Tedesco said. “We were all so excited.”

Although individual opinions differed as to what constitutes ethical investing, as a whole, the organization eventually reached an agreement on various ethical parameters.

The divestment from fossil fuels has become part of a larger effort, petitioned by USG, to divest all endowments currently invested in fossil fuels. Tedesco explained the Weatherhead Fund was confident taking this first step, especially since ethical business practices are becoming increasingly valued by consumers.

“On top of selling off all of the companies we were invested in for fossil fuels,” Tedesco said, “we’ve invested in alternative energies and renewable resources.”

Moving forward, these considerations will play an integral role in the energy sector’s investing. Since 2011, the value of the Weatherhead Fund has grown to nearly $500,000. They hope to continue their success with a larger focus on ethical investing.