SATIRE: Global Warming Can Wait. It’s Time To “Bivest”


This majestic oil rig works long hours at minimum wage to feed its two young children, but DivestVU won’t tell you that.

Parker Smith, Contributor

Instagram stories: flooded. Kirkland Hall: disgraced by a giant paper unicorn. My cherished weekly emails from Chancellor Diermeier: haunted by the face of Brian Baumgartner. If all of this sounds a bit apocalyptic, it is: this academic year has been plagued by talk of divestment from fossil fuels, an idea that would put this university further underwater than Broadway was a few weeks ago (an event unrelated to the beautiful warm weather we’re having). So let’s flip the script: why not double our fossil fuel holdings, or “bivest,” instead?

DivestVU really likes to tout that -0.1% endowment return from last year. News flash: the endowment is actually doing fine. So fine, in fact, that in 2015 it yielded -4.3%, which is over 40 times last year’s returns. Talk about cherry-picking your data! Besides, the endowment is only 13% of Vandy’s revenue anyway. I just did the math, and -0.1% is only $194,000. What are we gonna buy with that? Two years tuition? 194,000 bamboo forks? Please.

But folks, let’s be honest here. Don’t we all love fossil fuels deep down? Remember all those interstate road stops at Shell and BP, hopping out of your mom’s cramped-up minivan to the sweet, sweet smell of 91 premium? And let’s not forget the coal under the tree – a Christmas tradition as integral as Santa Claus and awkward family dinners. Did you know that every time an institution divests from fossil fuels, a baby car dies in the wild? Pontiacs are all but extinct now because of the actions of climate sharks like Handsome Ron.

To be clear, fossil fuel companies are not responsible for global warming in any way. Instead, blame solar energy for covering the earth in reflective black metal like it’s cultivating the crispiest tan since Donald Trump left office. Blame electric cars for taking up parking spaces that rightfully belong to good ol’ fashioned, diesel-sucking pickup trucks. Blame Brian Baumgartner for just being really, really, really hot. 

And just to be clear, I’m not just some disgruntled student off the street. I’ve run the numbers, I’ve done the research, and I’ve checked my privilege. In fact, my own father works in the petroleum industry, and his input informs most of this article. So clearly, I know more than most people about what fossil fuels do and don’t do. They do make sure that the stars of Cars are thriving, despite their old age. They don’t control the weather.

So let’s stop all this nonsense about divesting. In fact, why not double down? It’s about time for Vanderbilt University to “bivest” in fossil fuels, which means doubling our holdings in energy and oil and gas production. My like-minded colleagues and I have started a petition – which you can sign here – to show our support for bivestment, and thanks to my dad’s friends from work, it already has over 10,000 signatures. So join me and BivestVU in raising our voices, our endowment returns, and the sea level.

Parker Smith is a freshman at Vanderbilt University and co-founder of BivestVU, a non-profit organization which aims to tackle the ongoing marginalization of petroleum-invested students on campus. 

Image Credit: “Oil Rig” (unmodified) by Philippa McKinlay is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0