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UC reduces investments in 2 companies with ties to Dakota Access Pipeline

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MARCH 19, 2017

UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher announced at the Tuesday meeting of the UC Investments Subcommittee the university’s decision to reduce its investments in Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, two companies that own part of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The university’s investments in the two companies, which were previously worth $50 million, have since been cut down to $19 million. According to ASUC Senator Rigel Robinson, Bachher expects complete divestment from the two companies in the near future.

“We also continue to look at how we can invest more … with a sustainable investment framework lens,” Bachher said at the UC Investments Subcommittee meeting. “In September of 2014, we … adopted a sustainable investing framework and said that we would pay particular attention to things like environmental social governance-type issues.”

When President Donald Trump reauthorized the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, five students — Robinson, along with two students from the Students of Color Environmental Collective and two students from Fossil Free Cal — met with Bachher to make a case for divestment from these two companies. After the meeting, the five students launched a petition on Change.org, which garnered more than 1,000 signatures in 24 hours, according to Robinson.

“Student organizations and activists across campus and in units such as the Native American Student Development Center have been organizing around this for months,” Robinson said in a text message. “Resolutions urging the UC to divest from DAPL have been in motion in student governments across the state and through the UC Student Association.”

Robinson added that he believes an article published Jan. 16 in The Daily Californian played a significant role in the circulation of knowledge regarding the university’s involvement with DAPL. The article stated that the UC Retirement Plan, the funds of which are managed by the UC Office of the Chief Investment Officer, held bonds in the two companies.

According to UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechem, the university has been gradually reducing its investments in the two companies as part of its broader strategic goal of sustainable investing. Beechem said in an email that the university considers a “range of factors” in its evaluation process for investments, such as environmental sustainability, social responsibility and governance.

At the meeting, Bachher also emphasized the need to continue making progress towards sustainable investing by moving university assets away from fossil fuel companies.

“This is a journey, not a destination. … It’s going to be continuous de-risking,” Bachher said at the meeting.

Evan Yoshimoto, a member of the the Students of Color Environmental Collective who was present at the meeting, said in an email that the university has to be held accountable for its “investment against indigenous lives, sovereignty, and health.”

“Public universities, who claim to be our advocates, should not be funding oppressive institutions and projects that risk the lives of marginalized communities and the future of our environment,” Yoshimoto said in the email.

Corrections: A previous version of this article misspelled Stephanie Beechem's name.
Contact Azwar Shakeel at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @azwarshakeel12.

MARCH 22, 2017