“We foster a concern for justice and the competence to promote it,” reads Seattle University’s Mission, Vision and Values. The statement is listed beneath the Justice value, the value that the university touts above all others.
But when it comes to environmental justice, “concerned” is not a word I would use to describe our administration—“hypocritical” and “pandering” are more appropriate.
Despite the student body’s admirable dedication to divestment both this year and last, the university remains uninterested in pulling its investments out of oil companies. The school’s refusal to divest is not what disheartens me—divesting is difficult and Seattle U relies on the significant returns yielded by companies like Exxon Mobil. What disheartens me is the fact that the administration won’t even pursue a feasibility study.
If Seattle U is going to talk the talk, it should at least try to walk the walk.
The university’s unwillingness to further explore the possibility of divestment is out-of-line with its social justice values—more than that, the apathetic response renders those values artificial. If the school is going to pretend that the administration cares about environmental justice, it should take action through a feasibility study.
Examining the possibility would confirm that the university actually values the matters of justice it professes to be “concerned” with—it would turn our supposed commitment to environmentalism and sustainability into an action instead of an empty promise. It would show that the university shares the same values as the students it tries to attract.
But last month’s divestment statement proves that the school cares more about returns than ethics.
Perhaps “money” should be added to Seattle U’s list of values.