BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) A group of University of Maine students took a bold idea to the UMaine System Thursday afternoon. The students are part of a coalition called Divest UMaine. They want the UMaine System to stop investing it's endowment funds into the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
The students argued that divesting from fossil fuel companies would not only be better for the environment but also for UMaine's Bottom Line. They presented their research on the issue to the UMaine System's investment committee, which held a joint video conference between their offices in Bangor and Portland
"Divestment is a moral issue on many levels," explained student Sabrina Vivian to the committee. "By investing in fossil fuel companies the University of Maine System contributes to the climate crisis and allows this fossil fuel industry to externalize the carbon costs of it's business."
The students urged the Investment Committee to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees at its May meeting to freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies immediately and develop a plan for phasing out all investments over the next five years..
The committee said it would be willing to continue having an open dialogue with the students on this proposal. But a number of members expressed concerns about the financial cost of divesting.
UMaine Chancellor, Dr. James Page also had concerns and said that after researching divestment, the committee found the adverse impacts would be too great at this time. He also left the door open for future discussions.
UMaine's endowment fund is approximately $130 million. The System says fossil fuel investments makes up roughly 6.2 percent of the managed investment pool, 4.4 percent of the defined benefit pension plan, and about 2.9 percent of the operating fund.