Divestment not in Tulane students’ best interest

Adam Tannenbaum, Contributing Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Divest Tulane serves neither the best interests of students who currently attend Tulane University nor the future prosperity of Tulane as an academic institution. According to its website, Divest Tulane is a student group that would like Tulane to freeze all new investments in top fossil fuel companies, unwind current investments that Tulane has in the industry and use the money that would have otherwise gone to these companies to reinvest in the New Orleans community and renewable energy sources. 

Though a noble cause, the mission of Divest Tulane does not serve the best interests of a school like Tulane. Because of its geographic position on the Gulf Coast, Tulane relies significantly on financial assistance from these firms in order to conduct research, provide scholarships and improve the academic caliber of the institution. 

When the energy sector succeeds, Gulf Coast states succeed and when the energy sector does not do well, these states suffer. This is particularly true for schools in the region like Tulane and Rice, private institutions that rely on contributions from fossil fuel companies that have operations on the coast or in the Gulf of Mexico. A weak energy sector will only do harm to Tulane’s financial stability in regards to being able to provide scholarships and conduct research that fossil fuel companies help fund. 

Because many Tulane students rely on energy companies to help subsidize their tuition and research, it would be counterproductive to discourage investments in companies that give back to the Tulane community. 

Given that global warming is an imminent threat to society and will continue to haunt future generations, neither Tulane nor its endowment should completely ignore the issue of global warming. But instead of discouraging investment in an industry that has given so much to Tulane over the years, it would be much more effective to take less drastic initiatives than complete divestment.

For example, instead of total divestment, Tulane could mandate that for every dollar Tulane receives in a donation from a fossil fuel company or for every dollar that Tulane invests, $0.25 on that dollar must also be allocated for research of renewable sources of energy or invested in companies that produce alternative forms of energy. 

An initiative like this would allow Tulane to make a statement that the institution recognizes that global warming is a threat to society and the Gulf Coast in particular, while not totally severing ties with companies that have done a great amount to help Tulane.

The mission of Divest Tulane is an honorable one and the effects that global warming will have, especially on the Gulf Coast region, should be brought to attention. Tulane should not, however, punish companies that over the years have done and continue to do so much to help the school prosper. Instead of divesting from fossil fuel companies, a much more profound and effective statement would be made if Tulane instead came together with fossil fuel companies to search for alternative forms of energy. 

Tulane can do much more to combat the effects of global warming by building on current partnerships that the school has with fossil fuel companies, rather than creating enemies out of them.

Adam Tannenbaum is a senior in the A.B. Freeman School of Business. He can be reached at [email protected]

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