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UAZ DIVEST to have first meeting with UA Foundation prepared with list of demands

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Courtesy UA Divest | The Daily Wildcat Members of UAZ Divest protest the University of Arizona's investments in fossil fuels outside of Old Main.

This week, UAZ DIVEST, a student-led organization working to discontinue the University of Arizona’s investment in fossil fuels, has taken a step forward in their mission by scheduling their first meeting with the University of Arizona Foundation.

The meeting will take place on April 19.

The UA Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose “services include managing the university’s donated assets and processing gifts to the university in accordance with the UA’s guidelines and policies,” according to the foundation’s mission statement. The upcoming meeting is the first UAZ DIVEST has managed to get with them. 

According to Alex Floyd, president of UAZ DIVEST, the foundation had refused to speak with the student organization for more than a year.

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Although the UA has made a commitment to sustainability and pledged to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, the university maintains a $64 million investment in the fossil fuel industry. 

However, the UA has faced pressure from UAZ Divest to change this practice, and last September, ASUA passed a resolution calling on UA leadership and the UA Foundation to completely divest this funding from the fossil fuel industry by 2025.

“The idea is we’re trying to get them to agree to these principles called ESG principles, which are environmental social governance principles, which effectively means you're investing things that are equitable ... There's no use of slave labor,” Floyd said. “There's no pollution and environmental issues like that comes with CO2 emissions. And then that final one is corporate governance, which means you're still being responsible to your investors, while also investing responsibly.”

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The goals of UAZ DIVEST’s upcoming presentation to the foundation were outlined by Floyd.

“We want them to agree to no longer invest in fossil fuels and issue a statement. We also want them to agree to implement ESG principles and clearly define them, and then sign on to what is known as the UN PRI, which are the principles of responsible investments,” Floyd said. “ It's an organization of a bunch of different institutions that all try to report to each other if there's something shady happening with whatever they're invested in, communicate that and to be able to better make investments going into the future.”

If the foundation signs on to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, the UA would join a small group of universities across the country that have agreed to this initiative, a group that includes Harvard, Northwestern and the University of California system.

“Being at a top 25 research school, especially when environmental sciences are kind of important here, it seems like we should be really applying what our professors are teaching us to the school itself,” Floyd said.

Because decisions in this area affect everyone on campus, student engagement remains an important aspect of their mission. UAZ DIVEST has worked to spread awareness about their cause through rallies, general meetings and partnership with other campus groups, like ASUA and Students for Sustainability. In addition to this outreach, Floyd expressed a desire in fostering an environment of activism on campus and encouraged students to use their voices to create positive change.

Apart from the core principles of the organization, Floyd also expressed a desire to grow an environment of activism on campus. 

“I'm really hoping to have some change to give, maybe to help other activist groups a little bit more in knowing that [the UA] wants to listen and wants to work with us together to give the students a voice and make changes,” Floyd said.


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