Students and faculty attended the campus climate forum Tuesday to hear from the expert panel about the issue of divestment and other ways the university can address climate change.
The Creighton-only forum, “Seeking Hope: Intentional and Ignatian Responses to the Global Climate Crisis,” was held in the D.J. Sokol Arena at 7 p.m.
Following an introduction by Rene Padilla, vice provost for global engagement, moderator Andy Gustafson, a professor in the Heider College of Business, thanked students for advocating for a higher-level discussion.
Gustafson gave each of the nine faculty members and two students on the panel time to offer their perspective on how Creighton can address the climate crisis.
Much of the conversation focused on the issue of divestment from fossil fuels after a Creighton Students Union referendum on the topic, which passed with an 85.8% majority when taken to a student vote in November 2019, was not adopted by the university.
“From the time we enter Creighton as freshmen, we are told to go light the world aflame,” said panelist Adam Wilson, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. “But when our flame is snuffed out, we have little else to express but frustration.”
The forum was announced by the Office of the President as an opportunity to hear from experts on campus and discern other ways to move forward.
“The climate crisis requires both local actions and policy reforms,” said panelist Dan DiLeo, an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Creighton is commendably acting locally and advocating for public policies, but policy reform must also occur internally.”
Panelist Melissa Woodley, an associate professor in the Heider College of Business, said that while the moral case for divestment may be different, divestment is not a good idea financially.
“A formal divestment policy wouldn’t be necessary from an investment point of view to avoid negative returns,” Woodley said.
After the panelists had offered their insight and opinions, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions.
College of Arts and Sciences senior MC Raterman asked people in the audience to raise their hands if they were a Creighton board member or if they were among the top 20 donors to the university. After only a few hands were raised, Raterman said, “I think it’s important to remember that maybe the people who have the most power are not here tonight.”
Catherine Cottrill, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences asked the panel, “Which do we owe more of an obligation to: our Jesuit values or our monetary goals?”
Several students did not have the opportunity to ask their questions before time ran out.
At the end of the forum, Padilla addressed Creighton’s effort to continue the “ongoing conversation.” Among these efforts, Padilla said that the university has made an offer to a candidate for the Director of Sustainability position, as well as formed a climate change task force.