A referendum encouraging the Board of Trustees to divest from the fossil fuel industry passed Thursday, with 93 percent of students voting to support it.
While the referendum does not divest AU from any remaining investments in the fossil fuel industry, it encourages the Board of Trustees to vote “yes” in favor of divestment.
The referendum was put on the ballot in March after being voted on by the undergraduate senate and supported by student organizations such as Fossil Free AU and the Sunrise Movement at AU.
Divestment has been on the forefront of AU students’ minds in the past several years. The Board of Trustees voted “no” on the issue when it came up for a vote in 2014, citing legal obligations that did not justify divestment. In November 2018, student activists protested outside of a Board of Trustees meeting, in addition to starting a fundraising campaign which encouraged the University to divest.
“We are so happy that the vote passed, and proud of all the organizers and students who made it happen,” Anna Elias, a spokesperson from Fossil Free AU told The Eagle. “We’ve been pushing it for so long, and it’s so gratifying to see how much progress we’ve made. We are excited to keep fighting for divestment and to let the board of trustees know that students are sick of greenwashing and want divestment.”
This year’s election had an increased turnout from last year, with 2,265 students voting in total, which is 16.5 percent higher than last year.