Students Ask Boston University Alumni to Withhold Donations over School’s Ties to Fossil Fuel Industry

A study showing that oil and gas work triggered some of the most powerful earthquakes in the Los Angeles Basin could lead scientists to revise estimates of seismic risks

Boston University alumni are threatening to withhold donations until the institution divests from companies that are exploring fossil fuel reserves.

A student activist group at Boston University calling themselves “DivestBU” is demanding that alumni withhold donations, according to a recent series of posts on social media. According to the students, frustrated with their lack of progress in swaying administrators and trustees into divesting their interests in the fossil fuel industry, students are now turning to alumni and asking them to pause their contributions to the university until such a change is made.

“DivestBU asks alumni to withhold donations to Boston University until it divests from companies continuing to explore for fossil fuel reserves. We expect hits to the university’s rankings, reputation, and financial reserves to force the administration to pay attention to student voices, but are dismayed that this is what it takes,” the group wrote in a Facebook post.

The students are trying to obtain 2,000 alumni signatures on a petition designed to force the university’s hand into divesting their interest in fossil fuels. The students cite a report that claims that a large portion of the university’s operating budget comes from alumni donations. They believe that if they are successful in obtaining alumni support, the university will have no other option but to comply.

“Considering the leadership role of the university, I find it contradictory that BU invests its endowment—and therefore my donation—in the fossil fuel industry. The extraction and consumption of fossil fuels harms the environment, public health, and exacerbates the already negative consequences of climate change,” the alumni pledge reads.

“Given this injustice and the urgency of acting on climate change, I pledge to withhold all monetary donations to BU, starting in September 2017, until the university publicly commits, within a transparent and measurable framework, to the complete ACSRI recommendation of full divestment of all direct investments in fossil fuel companies that continue to explore for new reserves,” it continues.

It is unclear how many alumni have signed onto the pledge thus far, but the students behind it claim that they feel that 2,000 signatures “is a large enough number to afford legitimacy to [his] petition.”

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at


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