Students marching and carrying signs outside of the San Francisco State Foundation’s Board meeting on February 5th, 2015 had a slightly different message than most divestment protesters: “Thank You.” The demonstration was a show of student support regarding the Board’s decision in May 2013 to divest from coal and tar sands companies.
Through open and respectful engagement between students, administrators, and the board, San Francisco State became the first public university to make the commitment to divest. The foundation has also voted to look into the option of divesting from all fossil fuel companies in the future.
Last month, Robert Nava, President of the SFSU Foundation, spoke at the Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum at Arizona State. He told the story of how calls for divestment from students prompted a healthy exchange between administrators and students in looking at the costs, benefits, and practical challenges of such an action, that led to the decision to divest and has opened up an ongoing conversation about the role of endowment investment practices in broader institutional sustainability strategies.