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SUNY Geneseo College Senate Resolution on TIAA Divestment

Passed by the SUNY Geneseo College Senate on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

Whereas, 195 nations reached a global agreement in Paris in December of 2015 to keep planetary warming under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue a limit of 1.5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic and irreversible damage to society and the environment;1 and

Whereas, warming trends and their devastating consequences are happening more quickly than many predicted, prompting over 11,000 scientists to declare a “climate emergency” in November 2019;2 and

Whereas, the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that the earth has only 11 years to quickly shift from a fossil fuel-based energy economy if it is to avoid disastrous tipping points;3 and

Whereas, the climate emergency threatens human civilization as we know it, with effects including massive displacements of populations, hunger, disease, droughts, and floods around the world, and the collapse of ecosystems; and

Whereas, SUNY Geneseo is a signatory to the College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and has incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals into its strategic planning; and

Whereas, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to divest state common funds from investments in fossil fuels in his 2019 Executive Budget;4 and

Whereas, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA) has $8 billion invested in industries promoting fossil fuel production, distribution and consumption;5 and

Whereas, TIAA has $508 million invested in agribusiness companies associated with deforestation, indigenous rights violations, and severe climate impacts;6 and

Whereas, TIAA has directly financed the construction of a fracked-gas powered electric generating station known as Cricket Valley Energy in Dover, New York — an economically disadvantaged community, adjacent to one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the Northeastern United States;7 and

Whereas, many faculty members at SUNY Geneseo have investments in TIAA and recognize the responsibility that comes with such financial involvement; and

Whereas, SUNY should serve as a model of responsible and sustainable investment to university systems across the United States.

Therefore, be it resolved by the SUNY Geneseo College Senate that the Senate urges The State University of New York to demand that TIAA take the following actions in a transparent, time-bound manner, and, should TIAA not comply, the faculty further asks that The State University of New York replace TIAA with another investment institution that practices only responsible investment:

  • Immediately divest from any interest in the Cricket Valley Energy Center and any other power plants or other facilities which extract, process, transport or utilize fossil fuels; and

  • Develop and apply guidelines for transparent, time-bound divestment from portfolio companies in sectors associated with fossil fuel extraction, production and transport, as well as from energy companies which continue to construct and operate fossil fuel powered electric infrastructure; and

  • Develop and apply guidelines for transparent, time-bound engagement with portfolio companies in sectors exposed to deforestation risk in order to reduce and eventually eliminate deforestation and to uphold the human rights of affected small-holders and Indigenous peoples, and to provide consumers with relevant information regarding the exposure of their investments with regard to causing deforestation and to acquiring land previously farmed by small-holders; and

  • Publicly disclose the full information about TIAA’s farmland holdings in the U.S. and abroad, including the exact locations and boundaries and the dates the lands were acquired, to better inform TIAA clients about these investments and the potential risks involved.

  1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Paris Agreement

  2. William J Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R Moomaw, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” BioScience, Volume 70, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 8—12.

  3. General Assembly, United Nations, “Only 11 Years Left to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change, Speakers Warn during General Assembly High-Level Meeting”

  4. “Stand United to Fight for New York: FY 2019 Executive Budget”

  5. “How TIAA/Nuveen is Invested in the Climate Crisis”

  6. Ibid

  7. Megan Fielding, Letter regarding TIAA investment practices

We support the resolution

These members of the SUNY Geneseo community support the resolution. (Current members of the SUNY Geneseo College Senate in bold.)

Want to add your name to the list? All members of the SUNY Geneseo community are welcome to do so by completing this form. (Geneseo login required.)

  • Paul Schacht
  • Karleen West
  • Maria Helena Lima
  • James Allen
  • Lytton Smith
  • Lisa Meyer
  • Aaron Steinhauer
  • Leigh M. O'Brien
  • Melanie A. Medeiros
  • Kristina Hannam
  • Michael Restivo
  • Rob Doggett
  • Justin Behrend
  • Jennifer R. Guzmán
  • Ken Cooper
  • Mackenzie Gerringer
  • Chris Leary
  • Matt Pastizzo
  • Dr. Stephen J. Padalino
  • Paul McLaughlin
  • Bradley Taber-Thomas
  • Colleen Garrity
  • Margaret Reitz
  • Gillian Paku
  • Sonya Bilocerkowycz
  • Kaitlyn Bertleff
  • Sherry Larson-Rhodes
  • Scott Giorgis
  • Amy Sheldon
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Caroline Woidat
  • Dan DeZarn
  • Jeremy Grace
  • Robert F. Goeckel
  • Jeffrey Koch
  • Paul J. Pacheco
  • Hanna Brant
  • Bill Lofquist
  • Anand Rao
  • Raslan Ibrahim
  • Suann Yang
  • James Kernan
  • Stephen J. Tulowiecki
  • Rob Feissner
  • Andrew Hart
  • Sedar Ngoma
  • Andrew Herman