Northeastern University Faculty Release Letter in Support of Fossil Fuel Divestment

photo by Christie Macomber

BOSTON, MA — This morning, DivestNU, a coalition of student groups at Northeastern University, released an open letter from 51 faculty members calling on the University to end its investment in coal, oil, and gas companies.

“As an institution of higher learning committed to the development of science and the betterment of humanity, we have a moral obligation to align our academic endeavors and business practices with the future of the planet,” reads the letter. “[I]t is wrong to use our endowment to commission the destruction of a hospitable climate for our students, families, alumni, and ourselves.”

photo by Christie Macomber

photo by Christie Macomber

The letter comes during the second week of students’ occupation of the Northeastern’s main quad, Centennial Common, in protest of the university’s July rejection of divestment. The university’s decision was contrary to a 2014 student referendum, the recommendation of the administration’s own Social Impact Council, and now the voices of many prominent faculty members.

“Northeastern prides itself on a “real world” attitude and on a commitment to taking action on serious problems,” says Stephen Nathanson, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy. “The University should take this to heart and divest from the fossil fuel industry.”

Susan Ventura, an Associate Clinical Professor in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, said “I encourage divestment from fossil fuel industries in the interest of public health. The negative externalities associated with fossil fuels tend to most heavily impact poor and marginalized communities, where people lack the necessary resources and political power to protect themselves against industrial abuses.”

The letter and a list of all signatories can be viewed online at divestnu.org/faculty-petition/. DivestNU encourages faculty members to add their names in support.

photo by Christie Macomber

photo by Christie Macomber

In conjunction with the release of the faculty letter, DivestNU held a demonstration outside of Provost James Bean’s office in Churchill Quad during lunch hour. Inside, students with DivestNU directly delivered the faculty letter and unfurled a large banner across the floor of the office listing the 51 faculty members who have signed on in support. In delivering the letter Northeastern second year student Ben Simonds-Malamud said, “We want to know if the Provost and the Senior Leadership Team plan on walking over the voices of their faculty in the same way that they’ve walked over the voices of the student body.”