73.7 percent of voting Columbia College students have backed a call for the university to divest from fossil fuel companies.
The ballot initiative was included as part of an election for student body representatives that took place this week. It was authored by Barnard Columbia Divest, a student group advocating divestment.
"We need student support, and now that we have it, it's empowering us to step forward," said Iliana Salazar-Dodge, a co-founder of the group.
"It just confirmed to us that we really are representing other students' voices, and not just ourselves," said Daniela Lapidous, a fellow co-founder.
"We demand that Columbia and Barnard immediately freeze any new investment in the 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies currently holding the vast majority of the world's proven coal, oil and gas reserves," the initiative read in part. "We also demand that, within five years, our institutions pledge to divest from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds."
Lapidous and Salazar-Dodge said that Barnard Columbia Divest intends to take the ballot initiative to other groups representing students, such as the Columbia Engineering Student Council, in the hope of securing further votes of support. Direct engagement with the university's administration is an eventual goal as well.
Barnard Columbia Divest is part of the nation-wide divestment campaign launched by 350.org.