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Contacts: Olivia Rich obr211@nyu.edu

Sarah Singh ss8131@nyu.edu
 

NYU Divest Launches Campaign By Calling John Paulson

The campaign, On Board with Divestment, involves outreach to a new Trustee each week. 

NEW YORK–On February 17, 2017 10 NYU Divest members held signs at the lobby of Bobst Library with information about NYU Trustee and economic advisor to Donald Trump, John Paulson. They distributed information and instructions on how to contact Paulson by phone, email, and mail in order to demand him to respond to university consensus and pursue fossil fuel divestment. Students calling Paulson have spoken to his secretaries and left voicemails.

The initiative, #TrusteeOfTheWeek is part of Divest's newly launched campaign #OnBoardWithDivestment. 

On Board With Divestment is an effort to lessen the anonymity of NYU's Trustees and move NYU towards more accessible and responsive governance. Through direct communication with Trustees, Divest will hold the Board accountable to the University Senate and the University community's decision to divest NYU from climate change.

Divest will target a new Trustee each Friday morning, so that a growing number of Trustees will be contacted each week. 

This week in particular, NYU Divest brought attention to Paulson's involvement in violations of fiduciary duty and conflicts of interests in his deals with Goldman Sachs, and in the profits he made during the 2008 housing crisis. It also highlighted Paulson's long-standing support of Donald Trump's campaign and presidency, while Trump dismantles climate and financial regulations, and weakens the momentum of global climate action. 

"I feel like I'm breaking down a barrier and taking the masks off our Trustees, who are so distant and anonymous to NYU," said CAS Senior Alex Dahlberg on calling Paulson. 

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NYU Trustees Reject Fossil Fuel Divestment Initiative

NYU Divest Announces Their Campaign Will Continue

NEW YORK – On June 16, 2016 the chair of NYU’s Board of Trustees William R. Berkeley and NYU’s recently appointed president Andrew Hamilton sent out a university-wide memorandum stating that the Board of Trustees at NYU does not plan on divesting the university’s $3.4 billion endowment from fossil fuels. This decision follows four years of campaigning for fossil fuel divestment on the part of NYU Divest, which included meetings with a working group, a University Senate divestment resolution passed last April, and two meetings between NYU Divest and members of the Board’s Investment Committee. This April NYU Divest held a 33-hour occupation of the executive elevator in NYU’s Bobst Library over concerns regarding a lack of transparency and accountability in the University’s consideration of divestment.  

Members of the Board of Trustees considered the issue of fossil fuel divestment in response to an April 2015 University Senate resolution for divestment that passed with 80% of votes in favor.

“We remain disturbed that this decision occurred during a closed meeting that didn’t necessarily include a vote from the full Board, but rather a handful of members of the Investment Committee, on a date the university was not previously informed of, with no student or faculty participation. The trustees chose to disregard the resolution that passed our Senate with overwhelming support and is ignoring the thousands of students, faculty, and alumni who have shown their support for divestment. We would be very interested in finding out more about how this decision was actually made,” remarked Olivia Rich, a student member of NYU Divest.

Board Chair Berkeley and President Hamilton submitted a rationale to the University Senate, which they attached to the university-wide memorandum. The two-page document has stirred indignation in the NYU community. “It particularly shocks me that many of the arguments and demands made by the University Senate and, repeatedly, our own campaign, were either blatantly ignored or misconstrued in the Board’s rationale, even while the President and Board Chair repeatedly assert their respect for the Senate and our campaign in the statement. The majority of the objections that the President and the Board’s chairman raised against divestment, aside from being tired and simplistic, do not apply to the demand to divest the endowment of its $700,000 of direct holdings in Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy,” commented Lola Jusidman, another student member of NYU Divest.

“The fight is not over,” remarked Priya Mulgaonkar, an alumna member of Divest. “NYU’s community has shown its support for divestment and we will not end our campaign until NYU’s investments align with our stated mission and values.”

The campaign plans on publishing a fuller response in the near future. More information about NYU Divest can be found at nyudivest.com.

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NYU Faculty Deliver Letter, Maintain Pressure on Administration to allow divestment activists to meet with full board of trustees

The letter was delivered in person to administration and currently has 67 signatories.

NEW YORK – On March 1, 2016, faculty from New York University delivered an open letter to the Office of the President of NYU. The letter questioned the NYU administration's response to student protesters in late April, when members of NYU Divest: Go Fossil Free occupied the executive elevator of the Bobst library for over 33 hours before ending their protest amidst threats of summary suspension. This demonstration was staged in order to address the slow movement of the Board of Trustees in considering fossil fuel divestment. The University Senate voted overwhelmingly more than a year earlier in favor of taking measures towards full divestment.

The protest was also a response to the administration reneging on promises to allow students to meet with the full Board. As a result of deliberations with John Beckman and martin Dorph, two of NYU's executive VPs, during the occupation, NYU Divest won a presentation to the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees.

"While we are encouraged that the Investment Committee of the Board is going to meet with students, it doesn't absolve the administration of their promise to meet with the full Board," commented Mark Read, a faculty member who helped organize the letter delivery to the administration. "Divestment, while fiduciarily responsible, is more than an economic issue and therefore students should be allowed to present to the full Board."

The faculty letter asks President Hamilton, Executive Vice President Martin Dorph, and William Berkley, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, why the administration threatened students with summary suspension, contacted students' parents without permission, and refused to keep previous promises regarding NYU's consideration of fossil fuel divestment. The letter states, "These students represent the very best of NYU and deserve to be commended for their dedication to civic responsibility rather than silenced."

The Investment Committee meeting will take place on Tuesday morning. NYU Divest was also promised that the Board was expected to vote on the issue at its June meeting, and that members of NYU Divest could distribute documents and information to the full Board. Administration committed to a written explanation of the Board's ultimate decision.

"The Bobst action was effective in getting the administration to be transparent where they had been less so before," said Nicolas Mirzoeff, another faculty delegate during the letter delivery. "The administration's response to the action seemed heavy handed to the faculty, and we wanted to publicly register our disapproval and concern."

"It was very disheartening that NYU's administration would rather jeopardize the academic careers of 18 students than let us meet with the full Board," commented Olivia Rich, who had been threatened with suspension.

This letter follows a lengthy faculty letter arguing the case for fossil fuel divestment, which now has over 200 signatories, and the publication of an open letter from 16 Gallatin faculty.

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NYU DIVEST ENDS 33 HOUR ELEVATOR OCCUPATION
UNDER THREAT OF IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION

Campaign members left with three of four demands met under threat of severe disciplinary action

NEW YORK – NYU Divest, a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni calling on NYU to divest from fossil fuels, occupied the administrative elevator of Elmer Holmes Bobst Library from 8 AM yesterday to 5 PM today. The campaign’s actions were in response to continued delayed action on the issue of fossil fuel divestment and the administration reneging on a promise that campaign members would be able to meet with the full Board of Trustees. The executive elevator is the designated elevator that goes only to the 11th and 12th floors, which are where the NYU administrative offices are located.

The 18 students who stayed past 1 AM, which was the library lobby’s closing time, were all told that they would face disciplinary action. Despite this risk, the occupation continued overnight and the elevator remained occupied.

The campaign accepted the administration’s concessions to their demands that a good-faith effort would be made to address fossil fuel divestment at the upcoming Board meeting, that the Board would issue a statement explaining their ultimate decision on divestment, and that all Trustees would be provided with campaign materials. The administration rejected the campaign’s demand to meet with the full Board and offered to allow them to meet with the Board’s Investment Committee, which includes 10 of the 68 Board members. The administration stated that a failure to accept this agreement and end the occupation by 5 PM would result in immediate suspension for all students who stayed overnight. Students would not be permitted in any NYU buildings, and would be forced out of the elevator. Additionally, those students relying on University Housing would be moved to different rooms.

“We are shocked by the extremity of this response,” commented Olivia Rich, a campaign member who was at risk of suspension due to her presence at the overnight occupation. “We anticipated disciplinary action, but nothing as severe as a suspension that would be effective immediately. We were peacefully demonstrating in an elevator, not damaging property or significantly impacting operations. It is shocking and puzzling that the university would respond so forcefully to a request to meet with the full Board of Trustees for ten minutes as previously promised by the administration.”

“Suspension, which could be academically devastating to students, is a completely disproportionate response to peaceful protesters,”  Kelly Davis, who was also at risk of disciplinary action, agreed. “Why is a meeting with the full Board, as previously promised, such an unreasonable demand?”

“When the administration came to threaten suspension, I asked them for an explanation as to why a presentation to the full Board is not feasible aside from a lack of precedent. They refused to answer the question,” stated Lola Jusidman, also at risk of suspension. “I am outraged that they would rather shut us out of the university than provide us with an explanation.”

The administration issued an ultimatum yesterday offering a meeting with the Investment Committee of the Board if the protest ended immediately, and the campaign declined that offer at the time.

“We chose to decline the administration’s offer because it was not what we were promised,” Jon Brasley, who stayed overnight, said, “Divestment deserves a full and nuanced hearing, and that cannot happen without NYU Divest in the room. Divest has been representing the entire university community who want fossil fuel divestment, and that representation needs to be heard directly by all members before a decision is reached.”

“We had to accept this offer now because we could not afford to risk our futures. We are ending our protest now, but we will not stop advocating for a fair hearing for fossil fuel divestment. Despite this outrageous development, we still successfully achieved our other three demands and are proud of that victory,” concluded Sophie Lasoff, another student at risk of suspension.

Background Information 

In 2014, former NYU President John Sexton promised the campaign a presentation with the Board of Trustees if the University Senate passed a favorable resolution, which occurred in April of 2015. Last December, NYU Divest held a sit-in in the administrative offices of Bobst asking for a meeting with the Board, and were granted a meeting with two members of the Board’s investment committee. At that meeting, NYU Divest was promised an update on the issue of divestment following the Investment Committee’s next meeting. The Investment Committee met in late February, and had not given Divest and update or a timeline of consideration.

The occupation has been endorsed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on twitter. Other endorsements include Yale, Columbia, and Cornell’s divestment movements. Columbia students are currently on their sixth day of a similar occupation in Low Library. Several faculty members have also expressed support for the action.

The fossil fuel divestment campaign is a global movement urging schools, institutions, and governments to divest from the fossil fuel industry because of the industry’s primary role in causing climate change and preventing meaningful action to address it. At present, more than 500 institutions, now including Yale University, have committed to the divestment of more than $3 trillion from the fossil fuel industry. 

Alexandra Dahlberg, another member who occupied the elevator overnight, stated, “The effects of climate change are already having devastating impacts, such as extreme weather, flooding, and reductions in food supplies. This February and March have been the hottest months on record. This crisis is disproportionately harming communities of color and the world’s poor. Divesting from an industry that is willfully worsening climate change is an issue of justice. That’s why we are occupying this elevator and asking NYU to ‘rise with us’ by taking a stand on this issue.”

For more information and photos of the past events of the action: https://medium.com/@sophielasoff/students-are-rising-at-nyu-361eaf9a34f8#.wbhgta5mt

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NYU DIVEST ENTERS 2ND DAY OF ELEVATOR OCCUPATION:
18 STUDENTS FACING DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The group is occupying the Bobst executive elevator to demand fair treatment in the Board of Trustee’s consideration of fossil fuel divestment

NEW YORK - On April 18, 2016, NYU Divest, a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni calling on NYU to divest from fossil fuels, occupied the administrative elevator of Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. The campaign’s actions are in response to continued delayed action on the issue of fossil fuel divestment and the administration reneging on a promise that campaign members would be able to meet with the full Board of Trustees. Members have been occupying the elevator since 8 AM yesterday. The executive elevator is the designated elevator that goes only to the 11th and 12th floors, which are where the NYU administrative offices are located.

The 18 students who stayed past 1 AM were all told that they would face disciplinary action. Despite this risk, the occupation continued overnight and the elevator remains occupied.

The campaign yesterday reached an agreement with the administration that a good-faith effort would be made to address fossil fuel divestment at the upcoming Board meeting, and stated they would provide Trustees with materials from the campaign. However, NYU Divest is remaining in the elevator because their demand to present to the full Board as promised has not been met. The administration issued an ultimatum yesterday offering a meeting with the Investment Committee of the Board if the protest ended immediately. The campaign declined that offer.

“We chose to decline the administration’s offer because it was not what we were promised,” Jon Brasley, who stayed overnight, said, “Divestment deserves a full and nuanced hearing, and that cannot happen without NYU Divest in the room. Divest has been representing the entire university community who want fossil fuel divestment, and that representation needs to be heard directly by all members before a decision is reached.”

“Our ask is completely reasonable,” commented Olivia Rich, another member facing disciplinary action. “We want a handful of people to present to the full Board briefly and professionally on a subject with which we have significant experience and interest. Why is the administration opposed to listening to the voices of their own students? We are sitting in to protest this lack of accountability and transparency.” 

The occupation has been endorsed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on twitter. Other endorsements include Yale, Columbia, and Cornell’s divestment movements. Columbia students are currently on their sixth day of a similar occupation in Low Library. Several faculty members have also expressed support for the action.

For more information on the events of the action, go here. 

 

Background Information: 

In 2014, former NYU President John Sexton promised the campaign a presentation with the Board of Trustees if the University Senate passed a favorable resolution, which occurred in April of 2015. Last December, NYU Divest held a sit-in in the administrative offices of Bobst asking for a meeting with the Board, and were granted a meeting with two members of the Board’s investment committee. At that meeting, NYU Divest was promised an update on the issue of divestment following the Investment Committee’s next meeting. The Investment Committee met in late February, and still has not given Divest and update or a timeline of consideration.

The fossil fuel divestment campaign is a global movement urging schools, institutions, and governments to divest from the fossil fuel industry because of the industry’s primary role in causing climate change and preventing meaningful action to address it. At present, more than 500 institutions, now including Yale University, have committed to the divestment of more than $3 trillion from the fossil fuel industry.

Alexandra Dahlberg, another member who occupied the elevator overnight, stated, “The effects of climate change are already having devastating impacts, such as extreme weather, flooding, and reductions in food supplies. This February and March have been the hottest months on record. This crisis is disproportionately harming communities of color and the world’s poor. Divesting from an industry that is willfully worsening climate change is an issue of justice. That’s why we are occupying this elevator and asking NYU to ‘rise with us’ by taking a stand on this issue.”

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HAPPENING NOW: NYU DIVEST OCCUPIES EXECUTIVE ELEVATOR IN NYU ADMINISTRATIVE BUILDING

NEW YORK - On April 18, 2016, NYU Divest, a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni calling on NYU to divest from fossil fuels, are occupying the administrative elevator in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library in response to continued delayed action on the issue of fossil fuel divestment. Members arrived at 8 AM this morning. The executive elevator is the only elevator that goes directly to the 11th and 12th floors, which are where the NYU administrative offices are located. NYU Divest is demanding that NYU’s Board of Trustees schedule a vote on fossil fuel divestment, and allow NYU Divest to present to the full Board on the issue.

In 2014, former NYU President John Sexton promised the campaign a presentation with the Board of Trustees if the University Senate passed a favorable resolution, which occurred in April of 2015. Last December, NYU Divest held a sit-in in the administrative offices of Bobst asking for a meeting with the Board, and were granted a meeting with two members of the Board’s investment committee. At that meeting, NYU Divest was promised an update on the issue of divestment following the Investment Committee’s next meeting. The Investment Committee met in late February, and still has not been updated or given a timeline of consideration.

“The delays must stop. It is clear that NYU intends to drag this process out for as long as it can,” stated Olivia Rich, a campaign member currently occupying the elevator. “Given the urgency of climate change, it is unacceptable for the Board of Trustees to delay a vote on this issue. It has been a year since the University Senate passed a favorable resolution, and we need answers,”

Jon Brasley, another member occupying the elevator, commented: “We are asking for what was promised to us in 2014, which is a presentation with the full board, with the expectation that the Board of Trustees make a decision.”

The fossil fuel divestment campaign is a global movement urging schools, institutions, and governments to divest from the fossil fuel industry because of the industry’s primary role in causing climate change and preventing meaningful action to address it. At present, more than 500 institutions, now including Yale University, have committed to the divestment of more than $3 trillion from the fossil fuel industry. The last week has seen a series of escalations from divestment campaigns, including a sit-in at Columbia, and the arrests of students 34 protesting students at UMass and 4 at Harvard.  

Alexandra Dahlberg, another member occupying the elevator, stated, “The effects of climate change are already having devastating impacts, such as extreme weather, flooding, and reductions in food supplies. This February and March have been the hottest months on record. This crisis is disproportionately harming communities of color and the world’s poor. Divesting from an industry that is willfully worsening climate change is an issue of justice. That’s why we are occupying this elevator and asking NYU to ‘rise with us’ by taking a stand on this issue.”

 

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NYU Divest Occupies Bobst and Wins Demands

On December 16th, NYU Divest occupied the twelfth floor of Bobst library, demanding that steps be taken towards addressing divestment at the university. After more than seven months of delay tactics and broken promises from the university, the action secured Divest a meeting with the Board of Trustees to present divestment, as well as a Board member liaison to facilitate communications.

Below is the email delineating the outcomes of the occupation and Divest's expectations moving forward:

To: John Sexton, Martin Dorph, Lynne Brown, 
Please Forward To: William Berkley, Andrew Hamilton, and the NYU Board of Trustees
CC: Michael Hengerer, Allen Mincer, Fred Carl, David Vintinner, Terrance Nolan, Thomas Carew
From: NYU Divest

Today, NYU Divest and allies held a sit-in at the administrative offices of Bobst library in response to continued delayed action on the issue of fossil fuel divestment.

NYU Divest and the administration came to the following agreement:

  • That members of NYU Divest will meet with and present to the Board Subcommittee on Fossil Fuel Divestment as soon as possible at the start of the Spring 2016 Semester. The intention of the Board is to hold this meeting by the end of January, and no later than February.
  • That members of NYU Divest be put in touch with the appointed Subcommittee Chair.

Lynne Brown will be giving us the date of the scheduled meeting and the point of contact by Friday, December 18th.

NYU Divest would like to express the following expectations regarding the process of NYU’s Board of Trustees’ consideration of fossil fuel divestment:

  1. We expect that the composition of the subcommittee be diverse in opinion, background, and experience so that NYU Divest is given a fair and unbiased hearing.
  2. We expect that members of NYU Divest will be included in all meetings of the subcommittee for the purpose of transparency and fairness.
  3. We expect that the issue of fossil fuel divestment be on the full Board’s agenda to discuss and consider by the end of the Spring of 2016. Given the pressing and urgent nature of climate change, as well as the time already spent investigating this issue by the University Senate, which passed a resolution in favor, this is a reasonable timeframe.
  4. We request that members of NYU Divest be present for the duration of the discussion of fossil fuel divestment at the full Board meeting for the purpose of transparency and accountability.

We have CC’d all the Chairs of the University Senate Councils to update them on this issue if they wish to relay it to their respective councils. NYU Divest and our supporters are heartened that this process is now moving forward with transparency and accountability.

Respectfully,
The Members of NYU Divest

Governor Cuomo comes to NYU, talks climate change, universities

Our own Sophie Lasoff during a panel following Cuomo's discussion: "NYU has invested $139 million, which is about 4 percent of the endowment, in the fossil fuel industry. We were able to get a resolution passed and now we’re waiting to hear back from the board.” 

Read more at Washington Square News!

NYU MOVES FORWARD ON FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT

University Senate Passes resolution to divest from fossil fuels

NEW YORK— On Thursday, the NYU University Senate passed a resolution in favor of fossil fuel divestment. The terms of the resolution include freezing future investments in publicly-traded coal, oil and gas companies, and requiring the board to investigate ways to make the endowment more socially responsible. The resolution will be presented to the Board by members of the group NYU Divest later this year.

"This is a significant day for NYU,” commented Jeff Goodwin, University Senator and Professor of Sociology. "For the first time since the Darfur crisis, the University Senate has recommended divestment."

In the final vote count, 65 senators voted in favor of the proposal and 10 senators voted against, with seven abstentions. In over an hour of deliberations, students, faculty, and administrators advocated for climate action and pushed back against voices of dissent. The Senate has heard our community’s demands and proved that they stand by the moral imperative of divestment.

“We still have a long fight ahead,” reads an official statement from NYU Divest. “Despite the popular support of the Senate, the written resolution falls short of full divestment. Bureaucratic complications in the last minutes of the meeting prevented the Senate from resolving to additionally divest currently held fossil fuel stocks in Anadarko and Noble Energy.”

Prior to the meeting, over 70 students rallied in Washington Square park, holding signs reading “Vote Yes to Divest” and “Invest in our Future”. NYU Divest Actions Coordinator, Priya Mulgaonkar, stated: “The energy from the rally reflects how deeply the NYU community cares about the urgency of climate change. This vote is an enormous victory for our campaign, providing us the opportunity to bring fossil fuel divestment to the Board of Trustees in 2015."

Goodwin concluded: "While I feel strongly that NYU should act even more aggressively to respond to climate change, this recommendation is an important first step on the road toward aligning our investments with the science on climate change."

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