Stand with Fossil Free ND
Letter to the Editor | Sunday, August 30, 2015
Everyday, as I head to class I think about how lucky I am to attend this school. I know how amazing Notre Dame is and know our sibling institutions offer incredible experiences to their students as well. On my walks to class, I always look upward and notice the signs hanging from the lampposts. I see Fr. Hesburgh and thank him for the opportunity to attend this university and for all he did for our country. But I think Fr. Sorin’s quote sticks out to me the most: “This college cannot fail to succeed.” Part of success is never accepting completion. We will never stop improving. I am particularly concerned with our University’s response to climate change. We have made great strides in terms of sustainable practices but I think we can do more.
Maybe you’ve seen some signs and buttons around campus featuring a globe and an orange number nine. Maybe a classmate, a friend or a hallmate has asked you if you’ve heard of the divestment movement on campus. Maybe some very enthusiastic individuals offered you hot chocolate on a cold February day outside of DeBart and you engaged with them about fossil fuel divestment and what that means for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. All of these are outward manifestations of the We Are Nine movement. This student-led group has been active for more than a year and we ask that Notre Dame remove investments of its endowment from fossil fuel companies and reinvest that money in green and sustainable companies. I acknowledge that this place I love can still be improved, and I hope this campus knows that what we do is out of love for our university.
We Are Nine spoke to the nine billion people who will inhabit our earth in 2050. We are all responsible for the present and the future of our earth. This year we collected more than one thousand petition signatures from students, faculty and staff from our three sibling institutions. For that, I say thank you. Thank you for your support and for the good conversations that were started as divestment activists dorm-stormed for signatures. This year, our leadership met with Fr. Jenkins to discuss the possibility of divestment at Notre Dame. For that, I say thank you, Father. Thank you for your time. I acknowledge that we are not yet on the same page and what we ask is a big thing to ask. There is a common ground, and I know we can find it.
It has been an amazing and exciting year for We Are Nine, but also for divestment campaigns around the world. At other universities, students have mobilized their classmates and faculty to demand climate justice in the form of divestment. This national campaign is called Fossil Free. Notre Dame’s divestment campaign joins these other movements. As we approached the new school year, in solidarity with our fellow students fighting for divestment, our movement will now be called Fossil Free ND. Fossil Free ND acknowledges that this movement is far beyond us and more important than just our campus. When you stand with Fossil Free ND, you stand with thousands of people and hundreds of institutions across the globe in our quest for climate justice. Come join us.