Sophia Benzoni, a fourth-year Environmental Studies major and English Literature minor, poses in front of the Greenhouse at SF State on March 3. Benzoni was part of a resolution proposal that ensures SF State continues to have accountability towards their divestment of fossil fuels. (Bianca Heredia / Golden Gate Xpress)
Sophia Benzoni, a fourth-year Environmental Studies major and English Literature minor, poses in front of the Greenhouse at SF State on March 3. Benzoni was part of a resolution proposal that ensures SF State continues to have accountability towards their divestment of fossil fuels. (Bianca Heredia / Golden Gate Xpress)

SF State unanimously approves total fossil fuel divestment

Since becoming the first public university to begin fossil fuel divestment, SF State students continue to push toward complete divestment

February 24, 2022

SF State’s Associated Students Board of Directors unanimously approved on Wednesday the continuation of total fossil fuel divestment on campus. 

Fossil fuel divestment pressures large establishments to remove funding towards oil, gas, coal or any company that may induce climate change. According to Associated Students President Joshua Ochoa, AS proposed to be fully independent from fossil fuel companies by 2025 and produce zero net emissions by 2040.

Sustainability and Basic Needs Director Ashar Abdallah and student advocate Sophia Benzoni pitched the resolution to ensure that SF State remains accountable in their divestment of fossil fuels. 

But while students on the board expressed excitement over this achievement, fossil fuel divestment has been in the works for nearly 10 years at SF State. 

In 2013, students found that $2.5 out of the $51.2 million of SF State’s endowment financed the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil Free SFSU — a student- and professor- led divestment campaign — presented campus resolutions to fund more socially responsible investments. Through their campaign, they prompted SF State to be the first public university to divest from coal and tar sand companies in 2013. 

The SF State University Foundation promised to devise a five year plan by April 2014 to completely divest from fossil fuels. 

SF State also created The Green Fund, a $5 million endowment toward socially responsible companies.

According to the SF State website, the companies work toward “positive” factors such as biodiversity protection, reduced carbon emissions and fair workplace practices. Also avoiding “negative” factors such as investment in tobacco and civilian firearms. 

“Our endowment now actually has no direct ownership of funds in fossil fuel companies, which is like the main point of divestment, so then it’s like why would we ask about it now?” Benzoni said during an interview. 

Abdallah and Benzoni led the discussion about the benefits of fossil fuel divestment.

“The resolution does call on SF State supporting other Cal State campuses to divest from fossil fuels, which still hasn’t happened for a majority of them,” Benzoni said. “It also calls on SFSU to reinvest money into climate solutions, and it calls on SFSU to provide accessible accountability to their progress of fossil fuel divestment.”

According to the board Chief of Staff Chantel Bermudez, board-approved resolutions allow students to gain public support for their efforts.

President Mahoney, the CSU chancellor and other CSU officials can now use this resolution as a means for support in making further divestment decisions. 

In the future, Benzoni hopes that the school can remain more transparent about their funding. 

“I would envision things to be more transparent, like easy flowing communication between administration, the foundation and students,” she said. “And second,  I would hope that SFSU can follow through on that second promise of reinvesting some of that money for the community, specifically SFSU and underserved populations.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the university plans to be independent from fossil fuel companies by 2040. The story has been edited to accurately reflect that SF State anticipates being net-zero by 2040.

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Lisa Moreno, Campus Editor

Hi there, my name is Lisa Marie Moreno! I'm a senior at SF State with a major in Print and Online Journalism, a minor in Latinx Studies and I am currently...

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