Dear DivestUH Supporters–
We had the best possible day yesterday. The bottom line is that the Budget and Finance Committee voted to advance to the full Board of Regents a proposal for an inclusive task group which would look further into not only divesting UH from fossil fuels, but its kuleana regarding climate change and sustainability in general. This is everything we had asked for and more.
Don’t break out the champagne yet. UH is a long way from divested. But this is an extremely positive first step on the road to what we all want.
Mahalo Nui Loa to each of you who came to a 350hawaii.org meeting, signed and gathered petitions, contributed time and ideas, took notes, entered petition names, helped with designing the t-shirts (coming soon!), helped write and edit letters, pointed out articles, set up and contributed to the websites, called legislators, suggested or contacted potential testifiers, gave encouragement or feedback, created artwork, met with regents, did research, reserved rooms, helped to pass resolutions, proposed strategy, submitted testimony, compiled petition names, came to the Jan 8 meeting, put together and delivered binders to the BOR, and especially to those who wrote, rehearsed and delivered testimony. And thanks to everyone who didn’t give us any of those things, but didn’t give us any trouble.
Wednesday the room was full of about 50 people. We were the first agenda item. Eighteen people testified, including four Ph.D.s and two Ph.D. candidates, giving all manner of arguments. All spoke well; none went past the three-minute limit by much. No one testified against divestment. Chris Lee pointed out that about half a million dollars was spent last year just planning how to deal with climate change here, and that every dollar spent on climate change was a dollar that won’t go to UH. He and others are submitting bills this legislative session that would divest state funds from fossil fuel holdings. SUPPORT THEM.
Then, Committee Chair Jan Sullivan thanked us for providing all the materials, for the time we’d spent, and for giving one of the most thoughtful, organized presentations she has seen in her time on the board.
She said that though divestment was largely symbolic, it fit clearly into several of the goals and principles of UH’s guiding documents, and that compared to sustainability efforts at other schools, UH was behind–way behind. She suggested that the committee ask the full Board of Regents to form a task group including a regent, administrator, and representatives from the Graduate Student Organization, ASUH and DivestUH. The group would look further into divestment and also what UH should be doing to reduce energy use and improve its sustainability practices in general.
The next member to comment was Coralie Matayoshi, who agreed with everything Regent Sullivan had said, and pointed out that UH doesn’t even have enough recycling bins or solar panels. Regent Nielsen said that she had personally divested many years ago. Regents Putnam and Tagorda said they were in agreement. BOR Chair Randy Moore pointed out that sustainability efforts don’t need to wait for divestment decisions. Regent Acoba voiced support and said he knew Regent Moore was committed to action because he’d passed him riding his bike to the meeting! Regent Mizuno said he’d worked in and for alternative energy for many years, and Regent Yuen called divestment a “no-brainer.”
The vote to send a task group proposal was unanimous and followed by enthusiastic applause. Nine regents had spoken in favor, and none against. On January 22, all 15 regents will vote on whether to launch the task group. It could begin meeting in February, working on a plan to divest, and to bring UH to its proper place as an international example of environmental leadership.
We will need your input and continued support! Please stay involved. And ask all your friends to add their support at divestuh.org/add-your-voice