At the Advisory Committee on University Resources Management meeting Tuesday, members of climate activism group Sunrise Brown called on the University to dissociate from the fossil fuel industry.
Established in 2020, ACURM is “an advisory body to the president of Brown University that considers how ethical and moral standards are applied across all of Brown’s business and investment practices in a manner consistent with the University’s mission and values,” according to its website. At the Tuesday meeting, group members presented findings from their February 2023 report titled “Dissociate Now: A Fossil Free Brown,” which recommends that Brown cut all financial and social ties with fossil fuel corporations and affiliated groups, The Herald previously reported.
Caitlyn Carpenter ’26, a co-coordinator of Brown’s Sunrise chapter, said that an arm of the fossil fuel industry relies on “using universities to conduct research in a biased manner that then allows the industry to continue its own extractive practices.”
Following the release of “Dissociate Now,” Sunrise Brown submitted an official memorandum to ACURM in April featuring three policy line items, also shared during the Tuesday meeting. Two items were presented at the meeting.
The first out of two items presented to the committee called for a policy prohibiting all fossil fuel corporations from funding research or donating to the University.
During the meeting, co-coordinator Garrett Brand ’26 argued that accepting funding from fossil fuel companies for University research creates opportunities for research bias, threatens the academic freedom of researchers and “provides fossil fuel companies with a social license to operate,” according to the presentation.
“Accepting money from the fossil fuel industry taints research,” Brand said in an interview with The Herald. “It allows fossil fuel companies to say ‘We care about climate action because we’re funding climate research’ — even if they’re not actually taking action themselves.”
The second policy item would also prevent these companies from attending or hosting career recruitment events on campus.
According to Sunrise, the Center for Career Exploration does not invite employers on the Carbon Underground 200 or those listed as ‘Oil & Gas’ on Handshake” to recruit at the University. But “companies and organizations — including fossil fuel companies — can continue to post jobs for Brown students on Handshake and request to participate in on-campus recruiting activities … through the Center for Career Exploration,” CCE executive director Matthew Donato wrote in an email to The Herald.
ACURM committee members at the Tuesday meeting were “very impressed with the research, preparation and delivery of the presentation on Sunrise’s ‘Dissociate Now’ proposal,” ACURM Chair Kurt Teichert — senior lecturer in environment and society — wrote in an email to The Herald.
According to Teichert, the committee now plans to conduct thorough research on Sunrise’s recommendations, maintaining contact with the presenters, researchers and members of the administration involved in the proposal. The committee has no set timeline, Teichert wrote, but once the research is finalized, they will develop a set of recommendations for Paxson to review.
“It was meaningful for me, as a senior in my final semester, to see this (presentation) through,” said presenter Ethan Drake ’24. “Hopefully, it’s a favorable ruling.”
“This has been a long time coming,” he added.
Anisha Kumar is a section editor covering University Hall. She is a sophomore from Menlo Park, California concentrating in English and Political Science who loves speed-crosswording and rewatching sitcoms.
Julianna Chang is a University News Editor who oversees the academics and advising and student government beats. A sophomore from the Bay Area, Julianna is studying Biology and Political Science on the pre-medical track. When she's not in class or in the office, she can be found eating some type of noodle soup and devouring bad books.