Despite Lehigh’s recent sustainability initiatives, some students still feel as though Lehigh is not doing enough to reduce its fossil fuel usage.
The sentiment follows years after a movement and campus rally led by the Green Action Club on the UC front lawn in 2016 which demanded tighter university policies on ethical investments. The movement was sparked mainly by Lehigh’s investments in the fossil fuel and natural gas industries.
Samantha Roth, ’19, the president of the Green Action Club, spoke about the club’s limited interaction with the Board of Trustees after confronting them over Lehigh’s fossil fuel usage.
“The Board of Trustees met sometime in March 2018 to discuss divestment,” Roth said. “The official response we got was they could not divest because Lehigh does not control the investment firm that they hired. They can’t tell the investment firm what to invest in.”
Roth said she never spoke directly with the Board of Trustees.
“Pushing Lehigh to divest from fossil fuels was a dead end after last year,” she said. “The Green Action Club decided to take a break and reconvene later.”
Former Green Action President Andrew Goldman, ’19, also noted that nothing really changed following the rally in 2016. He said outside of coverage from The Brown and White, the administration never acknowledged the group’s requests unless they reached out to the administration, but never the other way around.
Goldman said as far as he knows, he is not aware of any changes that have occurred between 2016 and now in terms of the university’s investment policy despite student pressure.
Noor Baban, ’22, a resident of M&M’s outdoor adventure-themed floor, voiced her opinions regarding Lehigh’s inaction.
“I understand that Lehigh needs to utilize fossil fuels for certain programs such as the bus system, but for being such a prestigious school, I feel like we could create a greener campus and set ourselves as an example to other universities out there,” Baban said.
Baban said she does appreciate the work Lehigh has done with the hydration stations across campus and the overall green initiatives. However, she urged the Board of Trustees to take it a step further.
“I’d like for Lehigh to decrease and minimize their fossil fuel usage,” Baban said. “That would be ideal. We have the money. Why don’t we put it towards something green?”
In terms of making the campus greener, Roth encouraged students and outside donors to donate to the Green Fund through the Green Action Club. She said that donors can donate to Lehigh without having their money go toward fossil fuel usage.
Even though both current and former presidents of the Green Action Club are stepping back from this issue for now, both urge the student body to learn about the concept and get involved.
Roth encourages Lehigh to not allow corporations to influence their decisions. But Goldman struck a different tone.
“If the administration wants to watch civilization crash and burn, let them,” Goldman said. “It will be on their conscience, not mine.”
Both the President’s Office and the Investment’s Office referred The Brown and White to University Communications for comment, and no employee from the Office of Sustainability replied with comment after repeated request.