Dozens of students from across student groups at the University set up tents and camped out in front of Jones Circle on Thursday, April 28th to protest the Board of Trustee’s slow progress on divestment from fossil fuels. Led by the ECO club, the protesters met at 12 pm on the 28th and planned on remaining in front of the fountain until a board member personally met with the students and took their newly drafted resolution. The resolution was collected from the ECO club on Saturday, April 30th by a Board member, 45 hours after the students first began their protest.
The reasoning for the protest, according to ECO president Curtis Mraz, was to encourage quicker action on divestment. “We have been in conversation with the board of trustees for about two years now about divestment from fossil fuels and we appreciate their engagement thus far…but the process is moving at an excruciatingly slow pace, and we feel like we need to foster a sense of urgency,” Mraz said. According to ECO Club, the University has over $40 million dollars invested in the fossil fuel industry.
Prior to the collection of the resolution by a Board member, both Liz Collins, secretary of the Board, and President Ronald Thomas attempted to collect the resolution. However ECO requested that an active Board member collect the resolution.
ECO’s demands, according to their pamphlet “A Call to Divest”, are that the university:
1) Abstain from all new investments in the Underground 200, including the filthy 15, and private hydrocarbon companies
2) Divest from all current holdings in the Underground 200, including the Filthy 15, and private hydrocarbon companies
ECO calls for this within the next five years.
The Underground 200 is a term which refers to the top 100 global coal and top 100 global oil and gas companies globally, as ranked by potential carbon emissions of their reserves, according to Fossil Free Indexes, a divestment activism group.
The ECO club will call for the Board to vote on divestment at their meeting in September, Mraz said.