SUSU Council Vote Outcome

Delighted that on Tuesday 8th December SUSU’s Union Council voted in favour of lobbying the University to follow the lead of 6 (at the time of writing!) other Russell Group universities who have made commitments on fossil fuel divestment. The Council also supported the inclusion of tobacco but disappointingly voted to remove arms trade references from the policy. The policy as passed is below with removed sections in italics:

This Union Notes:
1. That as a leading research institution the University of Southampton has acknowledged its important role in demonstrating leadership by promoting sustainability in all that it does and in making a positive impact on society as a globally responsible University.
2. On 8th June 2015 the 2014/15 Union Council passed Policy 1415P30 (Socially Responsible Investment) in which the Union resolved to lobby the University of Southampton to increase their ethical investments
through SRI but did not detail what this Union considers to be ethical.
3. Since this policy was passed there has been increasing momentum around COP21, a global conference currently taking placing where United Nations member states are discussing new financial and trading
mechanismsto tackle climate change.
4. The University of Southampton does not at this time mention investment ethics in its sustainability policy.
5. FOI requests published by a student-led campaign group, Invest Positive UoS, reveal that the vast majority of the University of Southampton’s endowment fund has been held as cash on
deposit awaiting reinvestment.
6. That in response to these circumstances an open letter to the new Vice Chancellor and Finance Advisory Group was published in The Wessex Scene by Invest Positive UoS; urging the University of Southampton to
commit to ethical investment practices.
7. This letter carried more than 50 signatories including the presidents of 11 SUSU affiliated student societies and 14 academic staff.
8. Four Russell Group universities (Glasgow, Oxford, Edinburgh and Warwick) and 16 UK universities in total have already made commitments similar to those called for in this open letter; to exclude all or some fossil
fuels from their investment portfolios.
9. The University of Southampton’s endowment fund is largely accrued from the tuition fees paid by members of this Union.
10. This policy refers only to the University of Southampton’s endowment fund investments and makes no comment either in support or opposition to inward research investment that may be received by individual
departments, researchers or students at their own discretion.
11. That this policy understands the, “arms trade”, to relate to the for-profit sale of weapons or military technology. This policy should not be understood as a criticism of the UK’s army, navy or air force.
The Union Believes:
1. That the Union’s members may reasonably expect the University of Southampton’s endowment fund to be invested in a manner that is consistent with preserving the long term health of global society
and the environment.
2. The University of Southampton should work with its staff and students to produce a transparent, socially and environmentally responsible investment strategy that is consistent with its research and sustainability
objectives.
3. Global climate change presents a serious threat to food security, public health, human settlements and precious habitats and biodiversity both on land and at sea. As such the University of Southampton’s investment strategy should exclude companies engaged in exploiting the most polluting and environmentally dangerous fossil fuel resources; namely coal, tar sands and Arctic development.
4. In view of the irrefutable health risks of smoking and the unethical business and lobbying practices of big tobacco, especially in developing nations, the University of Southampton must explicitly reject investment in this industry.
5. Arms companies, in profiting from the proliferation of weapons and global conflict, are highly unethical. The University of Southampton must be clear that it will never hold direct or indirect investments in the arms
industry.
6. That the University of Southampton should pro-actively seek investment opportunities that have a positive global impact such as renewable, clean energy technologies.
This Union Resolves:
1. To reaffirm its current commitment to lobbying the University of Southampton to adopt SRI; now under the more clearly defined frame of reference outlined in the “Believes” section above.
2. To formally support and raise awareness of the Invest Positive UoS campaign.
3. To set up an open, student-led working group chaired by a sabbatical officer to establish a line of dialogue with the University of Southampton regarding its investment policy.
Proposed: Mike Allwright, Maddie Cava-Beale