Decarbonizing Villanova: What Has Been Done So Far?

Emily Attisano, Staff Writer

On January 25, the Student Government Association passed a resolution in support of divestment from fossil fuels. With the increasing severity of climate change, pursuing sustainable energy sources over fossil fuels is crucial. This resolution called on Villanova University, The Board Of Trustees and Father Peter to divest Villanova’s $1 billion endowment from fossil fuels, which is an important step towards reducing the university’s carbon footprint. In Section I(a) of the resolution, the SGA compelled the university to “divest immediately from all holdings, including direct and indirect, in fossil fuel companies.” This SGA action also urged Villanova to “commit to a new policy of transparency about the principles and monitoring practices that govern Villanova University’s investment approaches.” The resolution called on Villanova University to “align our investment processes with University President Rev. Peter M. Donahue, OSA’s public commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.” Ultimately, this SGA resolution was a powerful way of conveying the student body’s hope for a campus-wide shift towards sustainability. 


The Villanova community also expressed its support for divestment from fossil fuels through a petition which has accumulated a tremendous 354 signatures. This petition echoes the concerns of students, faculty and parents who urge Villanova to do their part to mitigate the devastation of climate change. Those who signed the petition shared their hopes that the university will shift to green energy, lead by example, protect local and global communities from harm and pursue carbon neutrality. As divestment becomes a crucial issue on the campus agenda, students voice their demands for divestment, decarbonizing Villanova and carbon neutrality. 


“I believe Villanova has an obligation to divest from fossil fuels, and switch to green energy,” junior nursing student Sally Ketterer said. “It is [Villanova University’s] responsibility to make sure [they are] not worsening climate change, or harming the environment or local communities. We need sustainable energy sources and carbon neutrality.” 


On January 27,  as an expression of these demands for divestment and sustainability, students, faculty and professors organized a campus-wide town hall meeting on decarbonizing Villanova’s campus. In tandem with the Student Government Association’s resolution and the Divestment Petition, this town hall meeting was a step in positioning divestment as an undeniable priority for the university. Eight speakers shared their insights on divestment, sustainability, climate change and the economic aspect of the university’s endowments. These speakers included Professor Jeans Lutes, Sharielle Rodruiguez, Jessica Mengistab, Professor Pali Singh, Professor Jonathan Doh, John Chaimanis and Joseph Miscimarra. The town hall raised visibility on Villanova’s endowment investments, conveyed information on climate change, discussed sustainability and expressed the tremendous community support for divestment. 


In response to the Student Government Association, the petition for Villanova’s divestment and the Decarbonizing Villanova Town Hall, the Villanova University Board Of Trustees met on February 13 to discuss divestment. As the Board of Trustees manages the university’s endowment fund and investments, this meeting was another important step towards decarbonizing Villanova. 


As climate change worsens, the Villanova community is dedicated to fighting for a more sustainable future. Through campus-wide initiatives, our community continues to build public pressure in the hopes of motivating university officials and the Board Of Trustees to make strides towards sustainable energy and divesting their $1 billion endowment fund from fossil fuel companies.