Jesuit universities are, at their best, truth-seeking institutions designed to facilitate learning and a sense of justice in their students. The Climate Movement is an embodiment of these goals and is made up of students who demand to know why our university has acknowledged that climate change is a crisis, but fails to act like it.
The ideal of forming “women and men for and with others” that was developed by Pedro Arrupe and grounds Creighton’s mission requires “a firm determination to draw no profit whatsoever from clearly unjust sources.” And yet, Creighton hypocritically invests in the fossil fuel corporations that unjustly perpetuate the climate crisis the university says it wants to address. Creighton University claims to promote justice but ignores the cries of the poor and vulnerable who have been inextricably connected and subjected to the environmental consequences brought upon them by fossil fuel companies.
Where is the “quick and decisive move towards forms of clean energy” that Pope Francis called for in his address during the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation? Why doesn’t our endowment, the symbolic and financial representation of future Creighton students, represent this?
Lastly, Creighton claims to pursue truth but has responded to the overwhelming student call for divestment with an event featuring a hand-picked panel of faculty. Truth was not a priority if four panelists -- nearly half of the panel -- were academically unqualified to discuss the grave severity of climate change.
At any university, panelists on technical issues should be individuals who are experts in the issue under consideration. Expertise in such matters is of paramount importance, and perceived balance is not.
The make-up of this panel mirrors that of many media “expert panels” where commentators who lack expertise are given equal airtime to those with expertise, creating a great deal of confusion.
While we acknowledge that the forum accepts the reality of the climate crisis, the panelists are imbalanced in knowledge about climate change. Ultimately, it is incontestable that within this university there are at least a dozen other faculty members and students who do have apt expertise, but they were not appointed to this panel.
The university’s promotion of this event was framed as an “essential dialogue around sustainability, responsible investing and caring for our common home.”
While we, as students, encourage dialogue on the complex issue of divestment, we feel that the notably high student voter turnout for Referendum #19-02, the 85.8% majority support that resulted, and the passage of the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate resolution in support of divestment demonstrate that such dialogue has already clearly and definitively occurred among students and faculty.
A large majority of the campus has voiced clear support for divestment. However, Tuesday’s event excluded those in this institution who hold the power to make this change.
One student asked, “Could those who sit on the Board of Trustees please raise your hand?” Only two of the thirty-nine Board of Trustees members had come to listen to the case brought by both sides of the divestment issue in this forum - one of these individuals being the university president.
If the intention of this dialogue was to inform real action, those with the power to act should have been present.
The title of Tuesday’s forum was Seeking Hope: Intentional and Ignatian Responses to the Global Climate Crisis. The administration’s actions thus far do not inspire hope. Decisively, the science says we have to reduce global emissions by nearly 50% by 2030. Current fossil fuel reserves represent 3.5-4.5 times more carbon than we can emit and still reach that goal.
Creighton’s continued investment in companies whose main objective is to get consumers to burn these reserves is literally betting against hope. In the words of renowned former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, “If a university like Creighton continues to invest in fossil fuels, it’s really somewhat hypocritical… that’s throwing in the towel. That’s telling young people ‘forget it, we’ve given up.’”
The Climate Movement is composed of 565 students who are committed to the betterment of society, the promotion of justice, and the pursuit of truth. We acknowledge and appreciate the points made at the panel and will seek to continually push the university to live up to its mission--regardless of where that takes us.