University News

UCS declares support for Brown Divest Coal

Council also considers proposal calling for undergrad representation on Corporation

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Undergraduate Council of Students passed a resolution in support of Brown Divest Coal, urging the University to divest its endowment from major coal and fossil fuel investments, at its general body meeting Wednesday. Divest Coal members originally presented the resolution to the Council before spring break.

Council members voted to pass the resolution after debating the merits of modifying clauses about whether the resolution would offer the support of future Councils or include other environmental groups besides Divest Coal.

Sam Rubinstein ’17, a UCS general body member, proposed altering the resolution to make it support other “student groups looking to reduce and offset Brown’s carbon footprint,” describing their efforts as “just as valuable” and “an opportunity to positively impact the undergrad community.”

Cameron Jones ’17, another UCS general body member and a Divest Coal member, disagreed with Rubinstein, arguing that “UCS can take a stand” to support other environmental student initiatives but that the Divest Coal resolution was “not the right vehicle for that.” The resolution’s goal “has to be focused,” he said, adding that bringing other groups into consideration “distracts from the point of the resolution.”

The Council ultimately did not approve Rubinstein’s proposed changes in its vote.

The resolution’s application to future Councils also drove discussion.

Walker Mills ’15, a UCS general body member and Herald opinions columnist, expressed concern that the resolution seemingly mandates future Councils to extend their support to Divest Coal, adding that he “wouldn’t feel comfortable with that.”

The resolution will serve as “a strong recommendation that next year’s Council works to get a sense to see where the student body stands on this issue,” said UCS Vice President Sam Gilman ’15.

The Council also listened to Jamelle Watson-Daniels ’15 present a second proposed resolution calling for the Council to help the student group Inertia be heard by the administration. Inertia works to support “scientists of color, including students and faculty,” by “hiring more black faculty” and reassessing the Alpert Medical School’s recruitment methods, Watson-Daniels said. The group also hopes to introduce pre-orientation and mentoring programs for black undergraduates studying the sciences.

Kevin Carty ’15, a UCS general body member, also solicited UCS support for the group of students working to add an undergraduate representative to the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. The group has been focusing on boosting its publicity by creating  a website and a Facebook event, and it intends to reach out to graduate and medical students about their representation to garner additional support.

Group members have shown an unwavering commitment to their aims with the belief that “coming out strong is a worthy thing,” Carty said. The Council is set to vote on the two resolutions at its general body meeting next week.

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