Fossil fuel divestment bill narrowly loses in SA Senate

Sen. Frank Fritz (CCAS_U) introduces a bill that would allow GW students to vote on whether or not they believed the University should divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. The bill failed by one vote. Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Photographer
Sen. Frank Fritz (CCAS-U) introduces a bill that would allow GW students to vote on whether or not they believed the University should divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. The bill failed by one vote. Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Photographer

A bill that would allow GW students to vote on whether the University should divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies lost by one vote in the Student Association Senate Monday night.

The bill required a two-thirds majority to pass. Exactly two-thirds of the senators present voted in favor of holding the referendum, leaving Executive Vice President Avra Bossov to cast the final “no” vote after 45 minutes of intense debate.

Multiple amendments had been debated, including a request for the University to disclose all of its investments, which failed. Only one amendment did pass: To make the wording of the referendum more understandable to students.

“The question at the end of the debate was different – due to the amendments – than when we began,” Bossov said. “And because of that, I could not support it.”

Sen. Frank Fritz, CCAS-U, who introduced the bill, said he planned on re-introducing it at the next SA meeting in two weeks.

“Of course I’m disappointed but democracy’s a messy thing,” he said. “I think that both Nick and Avra thought that the debate had been too controversial and that’s why they decided not to pass it on such a controversial note. Hopefully next time now that everyone’s aware of the bill, we have debated every facet of this bill, I think that we can pass it when everyone has fresh eyes.”

Sen. Alfredo Joseph Pelicci, Law-G, called for a vote of no confidence on Bossov because she had consulted with SA President Nick Gumas before casting her vote. No other senators joined him and he later said he had overreacted.

More than thirty students, many from Fossil Free GW and wearing orange felt pins with black X’s, attended the meeting in support of the bill.

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