50 UCSB Faculty Call on SB Mayor To Support Fossil-Fuel Divestment

Another article by Noozhawk, this time in the form of a Letter to the Editor.

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[Note: The following is a letter sent May 15 from UCSB faculty members to the office of Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.]

Dear Mayor Helene Schneider,

We are a group of UCSB faculty in support of the fossil fuel divestment campaigns sweeping universities, cities, churches and other institutions right now.

There have been resolutions passed by both the UCSB and SBCC student senates to have their campuses divest from the fossil fuel industry, and there is a campaign now among faculty at UCSB to call on our faculty Legislature to do the same.

Some of us have been in contact with organizers from the group 350 Santa Barbara, who say they have been in communication with you about fossil fuel divestment.

It is our understanding that you told them the City of Santa Barbara divested long ago. We think it would make a strong statement to publicly state that the city has already divested and will not invest in any fossil fuel companies in the future, that you support these recent campus divestment initiatives and that you hope other local institutions will consider divesting as well.

It is in the interest of the economy, the public’s health and general welfare, and our globally shared environment that we support these divestment initiatives wherever they may continue cropping up.

Great changes start with small steps. Please join us in taking those steps now. The whole world is waiting.

Sincerely,

John Foran, Sociology
Elisabeth Weber, German
Harold Marcuse, History
Ruth Hellier-Tinoco, Music
Paul Spickard, Asian-American Studies
Aranye Fradenburg, English
David Lopez-Carr, Geography
Lisa Parks, Film and Media Studies
Greg Mohr, Environmental Studies
Marc McGinnes, Environmental Studies
Casey Walsh, Anthropology
Raymond Clemençon, Global and International Studies
David Cleveland, Environmental Studies
Catherine Gautier, Geography
Aashish Mehta, Global and International Studies
Veronica Castillo-Munoz, History
Celia Alario, Environmental Studies
Rita Raley, English
Chris Newfield, English
Sharon Farmer, History
Stephanie LeMenager, English
Jeffrey Hoelle, Anthropology
Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Sociology
Aranye Fradenburg, English
Leila Rupp, Feminist Studies
Stephanie LeMenager, English
Richard Appelbaum, Global and International Studies
Patricia Clancy, Linguistics
Nancy Gallagher, History
Claudio Fogu, Italian
ann-elise Lewallen, East Asian Languages
Eileen Boris, Feminist Studies
Maria Charles, Sociology
Howard Winant, Sociology
Bruce Bimber, Political Science
Celia Alario, Environmental Studies
Barbara Harthorn, Feminist Studies Arturo Keller, BREN School
Catherine Nesci, French
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, Chicano Studies
Bodo Bookhagen, Geography Julie Carlson, English
Mary Hancock, Anthropology
Mayfair Yang, Religious Studies
Diane Fujino, Asian-American Studies
Tim Cooley, Music
Grace Chang, Feminist Studies
Roberto Strongman, Black Studies
Kum-Kum Bhavnani, Sociology

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UCSB Faculty Senate Passes Fossil-Fuel Divestment Resolution

The noozhawk published an article about the UCSB Faculty Senate passing a fossil-fuel divestment resolution.  Awesome.

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The faculty legislature at UC Santa Barbara has taken what it hopes will be a pointed step toward influencing system-wide change by passing a resolution in favor of eliminating university investment in fossil-fuel companies.

UCSB’s Academic Senate became the first faculty organization in the 10-campus University of California system to advocate for putting an end to investing millions of dollars in fossil fuel and oil companies last week, with a vote of 11 in favor, seven against and three abstentions.

Faculty are attempting to take the lead in what so far has been mostly a student-pushed change on the statewide and national levels, commonly referred to as the “Fossil Free” campaign.

The eco-minded movement, which is active on more than 350 campuses nationwide, is a response to what it says are increasing threats of climate change and social exploitation as consequences of dependency on a fossil-fuel economy.

UCSB Associated Students was the first in the UC system — along with UC Berkeley — to pass a resolution in favor of divestment back in February after working on the issue since last fall.

Students at five other universities have passed similar resolutions.

In a nutshell, faculty and students are asking the UC system to freeze all new investments in the 200 publicly traded fossil-fuel companies with the largest carbon reserves, while agreeing to develop a plan to remove all investments in these companies over the next five years.

“It is basically immoral for us, as university intellectual institutions, to be pushing forward climate and sustainability” when we invest in oil companies, said Emily Williams, a fourth-year student environmental studies major who has coordinated the local movement. “Our goal is not to get UCSB as a campus to divest. What we want to go after is the UC Regents. The political climate is such that we can’t get any sort of legislation passed. The point of it is to hurt the industry’s reputation.”

UCSB sociology professor John Foran called the faculty action the “very first hurdle in a long line of hurdles” toward effecting change, which he guessed would take until December 2014 or so. He estimated that $200 million of the UC system’s $6 billion endowment is invested in fossil fuels.

Foran, who teaches on climate change and climate justice movements, said more UC system faculty must get involved for the issue to come before the regents for any official approval.

“The way the faculty can do that is to request of the regents,” he told Noozhawk.

In the past, the regents have moved to divest from corporations involved with apartheid South Africa and, more recently, those involved in the sale/distribution of firearms, said Dianne Klein, a regents spokeswoman.

“Investment strategy is based on returns and what’s best for the university, and what’s best for students,” Klein said. “This is a big, complicated area.”

She said “probably a lot of dots” would have to be connected for the regents to hear a motion, especially since some votes — like the one at UCSB — are not cast by all faculty.

So far, only a handful of private, liberal-arts colleges have taken action to divest.

Regardless of the outcome, Foran said the faculty vote has sparked discussion and awareness on a campus that is typically lauded for “green” achievements.

“We want it to be debated,” he said, noting a need to sell and reinvest funds in clean energy. “We want to have a general discussion about sustainability. This is an issue that affects all humanity and generations to come.”

Socal Gas Expansion Project Hearing

Socal Gas Expansion Project Hearing

When:  June 5, 2013.  9am.
Where:  Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Hearing Room, 123 East Anapamu Street, Room 17.
Why:  SoCal Gas is proposing to drill for natural gas in Goleta.

If you are opposed to the Socal Gas Expansion Project please come to the hearing this Wednesday morning if you can.  For information about why some people living near the proposed site are opposed, email naneki88@gmail.com.  For more information on the climate change related problems with the project email maxgolding1@gmail.com.  You can also read the EIR and make your own assessments.

(This was sent out to our mailing list via mailchimp on June 3, 2013.)