Students present resolution to USG encouraging divestment in fossil fuels

Anastazia Vanisko, Staff Reporter

Inspiration can come from unlikely places.

For Case Western Reserve University student Jack Turner, his passion came from an interview on the popular Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report.”

Thanks to an interview with Bill McKibben, founder of, about his belief that the movement to stop climate change begins with grassroots organizations, Turner was inspired to begin his work to lessen the effects of climate change shortly before coming to CWRU.

Turner’s work can now be seen in a resolution recently proposed to the Undergraduate Student Government requesting that CWRU divest (in other words, withdraw its investments) from its fossil fuel interests.

After working on 14 drafts of this divestment resolution and finally creating a final draft with fellow Student Sustainability Council (SSC) member Steven Cramer, it is clear that Turner is passionate about this issue. Both he and the SSC, as well as an estimated 82 percent of the student body according to a survey done by the SSC, want a more carbon friendly environment here.

When describing the SSC’s campaign to mitigate the effects of climate change, Turner said the resolution is just the beginning. The overall goal is to raise awareness in the student body, eventually creating a political climate in which it is, according to Turner, “possible to either have a carbon tax or place the existing reserves of carbon-producing fossil fuels, such as gas, coal, oil… under moratorium so they won’t be extracted or burned.”

Similar divestment campaigns found success at 11 other schools around the country, whose locations ranged from California to Vermont. This means they have stopped investing in the 200 top fossil fuel companies, including household names such as Shell, Conoco and Chevron, to mention only a few.

At this point, USG has yet to vote on the resolution. According to Taylor Gladys, when the resolution was discussed during a general assembly meeting on April 8, many felt that it needed more clarification. If USG does vote for it to pass, they will present it to the Board of Trustees and President Barbara Snyder, as the resolution explicitly states must happen.

However, as Gladys also pointed out, CWRU is not required to disclose in which companies it invests. The divestment resolution can only serve as a strong recommendation and USG would have no way of monitoring if any resulting actions took place.