Students march for fossil fuel divestment
Rachel O'Grady | Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Roughly fifty students, led by Fossil Free ND, marched from McKenna Hall to the Main Building early Monday evening to protest the University’s current investment in fossil fuels.
Freshman Adam Wiechman said the goal of Fossil Free ND is to push the University to fully divest from fossil fuels within the next five years.
“We want the University to become an active voice in climate change and really take a look at those funds,” Wiechman said.
The protest followed a talk by environmentalist Bill McKibben as part of the Hesburgh Lecture Series.
“Bill McKibben, the inspiration for our movement, is the founder of the global divestment movement,” Wiechman said. “We decided to jump on the opportunity of him being here. We met with Bill beforehand; He gave us a shout-out during the speech. It was great.”
Wiechman said they received bigger numbers than they initially anticipated.
“We actually picked up a lot of people. We marched from McKenna to the Main Building, placing signs down along the way that were orange footprints that represented climate change impacts,” Wiechman said.
Freshman Brittany Benninger said she was excited about the turnout and impressed by McKibben’s talk.
“Bill McKibben is super influential right now, and we love that he was able to come out on campus,” Benninger said. “He gave a great lecture on climate change and the need to divest from fossil fuels, and that’s why we’re out here today.”
Benninger said it is imperative the administration focuses on divestment in the next five years.
“It’s really important that [the administration] understands that they need to take their money out of such practices and reinvest in some better, more sustainable and renewable income,” Benninger said.
Freshman Abby Ferguson said she was also excited about the protest and the talk itself.
“We had a lot of people join us from the talk, and I know we had a few people join us on the way,” Ferguson said. “We stopped seven times along the way to put down seven footprints for things that are the result of climate change, such as drought, sea level rise, ocean acidification and crop reduction.”
Protestors were invited to sign a banner that had shamrocks in the outline of a globe.
“We wanted people to sign to show individual support for the cause,” Ferguson said.
According to Ferguson, the administration has been less than cooperative or responsive to any of the group’s protests.
“I don’t know if Jenkins has had an official response to any of this, but if he has, I know it’s been basically to say, ‘Stop,” Ferguson said. “The administration has thus far, based on what I understand and know, has been really unresponsive, just kind of trying to ignore it and hope it’ll go away. But the goal is to not let that happen because this is important.”