A degree from Harvard University was once seen as the pinnacle of achievement in higher education. Parents would boast proudly that their child was attending one of the most prestigious universities in America, and a diploma from Harvard could almost guarantee you a job in whichever field you chose.
But today, Harvard’s image is being tarnished by fossil fuels. The university still maintains considerable holdings in fossil fuels in their endowment funds, and according to University President Drew Faust, that isn’t going to change in the near future.
Faust has long been an opponent of fossil fuel divestment, and refuses to take part in the larger movement of universities and other institutions who are pulling their endowment funds out of dirty energy financial holdings. Harvard currently has an endowment worth over $30 billion, the largest of any other institution in the United States.
ClimateProgress has been following Faust’s anti-divestment campaign for some time, and has completely debunked all of Faust’s talking points on the issue of divestment. In 2013, Faust released a letter explaining her reasoning for refusing to divest, which includes: fossil fuel companies won’t notice; divestment would hurt Harvard’s bottom line; the endowment is not a tool for social change; and that divestment is hypocritical.
As ClimateProgress pointed out at the time, all of Faust’s reasoning rests on faulty logic. First of all, divesting from fossil fuels would send a big message to the dirty energy industry and would easily inspire others to do the same. Second, as fossil fuel reserves are depleted, the companies' stocks will plummet, which will have a significant impact on Harvard’s bottom line. And third, on hypocrisy, it is not hypocritical to remove your financial holdings from an industry that is making money at the expense of human and environmental health.
But Faust clearly cannot be swayed by logic, and this week her ignorance was put on full display when a young activist named Alli Welton from Divest Harvard put Faust on the spot and asked her why her university refuses to divest from the dirty energy industry. ClimateProgress provides the video: