St Anne’s JCR has passed a motion urging the college to invest more ethically, following revelations published in Cherwell last week.
The motion urged St Anne’s to divest from companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list, which comprises the world’s 200 companies with the largest carbon reserves, as well as the British defence contractor BAE Systems. It stated that it is time the college “align its investment with its ethical commitments.”
The motion – which passed with 27 votes for, six against, and one abstention – also called on the college to commit to “reinvesting the funds in ethical assets, according to principles agreed upon in consultation with students and faculty”.
Cherwell has previously reported that, as of mid October, St Anne’s owned shares worth £88,400 in BAE Systems.
BAE has faced criticism over allegations that fighter jets sold by the company have been employed in Saudi airstrikes on Yemeni civilian targets including hospitals, and the company provides nuclear weapons-related services to the US armed forces. A UN report published in August this year reveals that at least 6,660 Yemeni civilians have been killed from March 2015 to August 2018. Most of these casualties were caused by airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition.
The motion stated that divestment is “an effective means of stigmatising the weapons and fossil fuel industries and encouraging more restrictive legislation in these sectors.”
Proposer of the motion Philomena Wills told Cherwell: “I and the other members of the St Anne’s college divestment campaign are extremely pleased that the student body has made its stance clear on the entirely unethical investment policies of our college.
“We are moving forward quickly to the next stages of the divestment process, with the hope of continued student support.”
In passing the motion, St Anne’s JCR joins a wider divestment movement globally and in Oxford. Lady Margaret Hall and Trinity College JCRs are another two of many student bodies who have passed similar motions asking their colleges to divest, according to figures provided by the Oxford Climate Justice Campaign (OCJC).
When asked about the motion, a St Anne’s spokesperson told Cherwell: “The College is working with the JCR on providing more transparency around its investment policy in order to allay their concerns.”
Spokesperson for OCJC and St Anne’s student Caitlin Prentice told Cherwell: “Divestment is not only the right thing to do ethically, it is financially responsible and feasible.
“Over 60 UK universities, the Republic of Ireland, and the New York City pension fund (189 billion US dollars) have recently divested from fossil fuels. Why not St Anne’s?”
She continued: “It is unethical to continue to invest in fossil fuel companies when we know that fossil fuel use causes climate change.
“The JCR motion is a great step in the right direction for St Anne’s, and I hope that the College works with students to divest the endowment from fossil fuel companies as quickly as possible and re-invest it in more environmentally, socially ethical funds.”
BAE Systems was contacted for comment.