UC Students Ask Chancellors to be “Theirs” this Valentine’s Day

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UC Students Ask Chancellors to be “Theirs” this Valentine’s Day

And to break up with fossil fuel investments

This Friday, February 13th, University of California students will be joining hundreds of campaigns around the world in calling for an end to fossil fuel investments during the first-ever Global Divestment Day. Campuses are hosting flash-mobs, marches and sit-ins to demand that their university no longer invest in the fossil fuel companies that drive climate change and threaten the health of our world.

Fossil Free UC, a coalition of the University of California’s campus divestment campaigns, has been actively working since March 2013 to push the UC Regents to align their investment policy with their stated values. Alden Phinney, a junior at UCSC, stated, “The Regents’ continued financial support for fossil fuel corporations flies in the face of UC’s purported ‘climate leadership.’ Our carbon neutrality initiative should be implemented in investments as well as operations in order to secure a habitable world for future generations. FFUC is organizing on every campus to bolster faculty, staff and student opposition to the business designs of these rogue corporations.”

This Friday, however, the attention is on the university chancellors. Recognizing the Regents’ unwillingness to work with their students, the students are turning to their chancellors to stand on their side and advocate with them. The Fossil Free campaigns at Santa Barbara, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles will be holding coordinated actions, targeting their chancellors to “break up” with fossil fuels and to recommit to students by publicly endorsing fossil fuel divestment. “Our chancellors are supposed to be a voice for the needs of our campus communities,” said Jake Soiffer, a sophomore at UC Berkeley. “When students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members are united in their call for divestment, we expect our chancellors to stand with us on the right side of history.”

Global Divestment Day comes on the heels of the March for Real Climate Leadership, the largest ever anti-fracking demonstration, held in Oakland. It called for “real climate leadership” from Governor Brown, as well as from cities across California to heed the calls of public health officials, educators and citizens wracked by the terrors of oil fracking. One week later, UC students are calling for real climate leadership from their Chancellors.

“The work of the students and alumni of Fossil Free UC was instrumental in creating the UC Task Force on Sustainable Investments and the resulting $1 billion investment into ‘climate solutions’ in September 2014,” said Victoria Fernandez, a senior at UC Berkeley who served on the task force. “While this redirected investment was a major win, it fails to truly bolster the university’s integrity as a climate leader.” Although the university has committed to addressing climate change through President Napolitano’s carbon neutrality initiative, Fernandez asserts that the UC can never be carbon neutral — nor adhere to its own mission statement — as long as it invests in and backs the fossil fuel industry. “The UC students demand integrity, transparency and commitment from the Regents to address climate change, for which the first step is full divestment. Until the Regents are able to deliver, the students are asking their chancellors to be ‘theirs’ this Valentines Day, and to break up their relationship with the fossil fuel industry.”

Jonathan Lake, an electrical engineering graduate student at UCLA, emphasizes the importance of the UC standing on the side of its students, rather than of an exploitative industry. “The UC will never fulfill its educational mission if it does not also stand for a stable climate,” Lake said. “As young students and other affected communities, we must not settle for the status quo of climate chaos. We demand agency over our future and our right to self-determine.” When UC chancellors, faculty and eventually Regents choose to divest, they are recommitting to students and saying, ‘We are on your side.’ This movement for a more just and democratic education will certainly not end there. But it is a great place to start.

So, University of California – whose side are you on? #Divest.
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For more information on Global Divestment Day and to find an action near you, please viist http://globaldivestmentday.org/

For more information on Fossil Free UC, please visit fossilfreeuc.org.

Follow the actions on Facebook and Twitter (@FossilFreeUC).

 

Alyssa Lee, California Student Sustainability Coalition, alyssa.dabichi.lee@gmail.com, 209-222-8872

Jake Soiffer, California Student Sustainability Coalition and UC Berkeley Undergraduate Student, soiffer@berkeley.edu, 646-734-8580

Theo LeQuesne, UCSB Graduate Student, theo.leq@hotmail.com, 805-637-3543

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Posted in California Student Sustainability Coalition Magazine.