Last month, the University Park Undergraduate Association decided to approve Resolution #56-15, setting forth a bold demand — Penn State's divestment from the fossil fuel industry in all its smog-tainted glory.
As it turns out, the university has a small but by no means negligible investment in coal, gas and oil, perhaps explaining why its vision of the future appears so hazy and short-sighted. In mathematical terms, about 6% of Penn State's assets lie in fossil fuels.
While Resolution #56-15 is not binding upon the university and administration officials can ignore it altogether, the proposal still ops for concessionary realism. Rather than demanding that all requested processes wrap up by next year, UPUA recommends a gradual approach that aims for total divestment by 2026.
The resolution should be welcomed with open minds and hopefully open arms. There's little reason to attend a university that prides itself on imparting critical thinking, and then switch that critical thinking off when it comes to humanity's approaching hotbox session.
Continuous investment in fossil fuels, once the final analysis is applied, only truly invests in one thing: a darker, drier future for our children.
Climate change requires bold decisions; Mother Nature was never known for being moderate in her actions, and humanity is already doomed if it chooses to be moderate in its reactions.
Total divestment in the short time frame provided may prove unfeasible. But if radical change is off the table, the student body will settle for gradual progress instead. Any future that is less smeared is a future infinitely worth striving for.
Of course, other public universities have striven further and committed to unconditional divestment. The University of Massachusetts Amherst and Rutgers University count among them. But while we usually expect Penn State to exceed the bare minimum, the simple fact that these other universities exist in states less intoxicated upon fossil fuels than Pennsylvania does create another dilemma, and adds another layer of unrealism to Resolution #56-15.
When the U.S. Energy Information Administration describes your state as "a leading East Coast supplier of coal, natural gas, electricity and refined petroleum products to the nation," relinquishing such potentialities for profit becomes that much more institutionally unthinkable.
However, Penn State can pursue various other paths to climate cleanliness. Sure, slow but steady divestment in fossil fuels could turn into water torture for the industry, but other avenues beckon us.
For example, investment in greener spaces and forms of energy across the commonwealth will add to the common good. So much rural land in Pennsylvania is barren except for the cows grazing there. Imagine how much cuter those cows would look next to wind turbines or rows of solar panels.
And Penn State would not enter into this struggle alone. On the contrary, some friends in high places (such as the aforementioned University of Massachusetts Amherst) are entertaining the same notions only with greater intensity. No man (or institution) is truly an island.
But in this uncertain climate, any effort should be praised to the high heavens until the heavens become clear again.
Franklin D. Roosevelt ended up president four times for a reason. His advice, to at least try something, proves fresh and practical as always. Would Penn State conjure up his ghost and listen?
Daily Collegian Opinion Editor David Tilli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.