NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Yale University undergraduates who participated in a vote on whether the Ivy League school should divest a portion of its fossil fuel investments have overwhelmingly backed the measure.

The New Haven Register reports that 83 percent of students who participated in the online referendum backed the measure. Fossil Free Yale will ask the Yale Corporation to consider whether the school should curtail its investment in fossil fuel companies.

The Yale Corporation controls the endowment.

Fossil Free Yale says it targets the biggest-polluting companies as part of a gradual divestment. Other students argued that pulling fossil fuel investments would jeopardize the performance of Yale’s endowment.

The vote was primarily symbolic. The Yale College Council says about 53 percent of undergraduates voted.

For a student referendum to be official, at least half of the undergraduate population — or 2,700 of Yale’s5,400 undergraduates — must participate. In addition, votes in favor of the measure must equal at least one-third of the undergraduate population.

Yale’s endowment is not open to public scrutiny, and it’s not known how much it invests in fossil fuel companies.

Activists have called for divestment of fossil fuel investments at other universities and some municipalities in recent years, but the institutions have not done so.

Max Weinreich, a member of Fossil Free Yale, said Yale may divest, in part because advocates are seeking only a gradual divestment.

“Yes, this approach is on the conservative side, but the headlines that come out of this will not be conservative,” Weinreich said. “They will be pretty striking.”


Information from: New Haven Register,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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