Investment a Necessary Evil

Sometimes, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. As student fervor for divestment grows more feverish, we are faced with an important balancing decisions—but we are fighting for the wrong side.

I commend the university’s administration for saying “no” to those who would have the school divest—largely because I believe their “no” could one day save the planet.

I’m certainly not about to argue in favor of the environmental ethics of companies like Exxon Mobil or BP because I’m certain that I would lose that debate. Pulling our institution’s money away from these companies (and their extremely high returns) could actually be detrimental to the cause.

It’s not pleasant, but we live in a world that runs on oil and profits—and Exxon excels at producing both of these. Pulling our institution’s money from these companies is not going to bring down the oil industry—it won’t even make a dent.

It will, however, limit the ability of our university’s endowment fund to bring in competitive returns, essentially limiting the ability of the university to provide scholarships. While it’s an uncomfortable sentiment, Exxon is likely paying for the education of several students at this school.
Sure, divesting allows us to extend our big ol’ Redhawk middle fingers up at Exxon et al, but at what cost? An affordable education for the masses?

Some sacrifices must be made. Al Gore pumped a lot of carbon into the air when he was flying around promoting An Inconvenient Truth, but he also spurred a conversation that would change the world—one that likely offset his personal carbon contribution.

The education Exxon pays for could very well be the education of a brilliant entrepreneur or scientist that ultimately brings its profits to a halt by discovering a more sustainable energy solution.