Today Divest UW, a student organization that is concerned with the University of Washington’s investment in fossil fuel, hosted a rally in Red Square before attending the Board of Regents meeting to address their concerns directly.
This has been on going process for more than two years now and while there have been some concessions, the students feel as though they are not being heard or respected. In fact, as they say, they were told that they would be on the agenda for the Board of Regents meeting today, but this was not the case. So, they held a rally and got many other students hyped about our planet and the mis-management of our resources. Then with fifty or sixty fellow students and community members, they occupied the meeting and presented two beautifully crafted speeches.
The first speech addressed the moral and ethical concerns of the usage of fossil fuels to both the United States and to other countries, focusing on the social injustices that result. The second speech drew acute attention to how the Board of Regents has disregarded the Divest UW campaign and what the expectations are for the future. The demand, stated in the form of a request was that by January the board is to discuss and call to vote in February of 2015, to divest from the university’s stocks in coal. Hence the name of the rally “NO COAL IS THE GOAL”.
Today, Divest UW had the support of the Socialist Alternative, Rising Tide, and even former Mayor Mike McGinn who all spoke at the rally. It is inspiring to see so many dedicated and peaceful people coming together to fight for a cause that is worthy and to stand in solidarity. Climate Change is an issue that bridges all classes and cultures and it does not discriminate. However, those that deny climate change, and in fact, many other social and environmental justices issues attempt to drive a wedge between people with cleverly crafted rhetoric. Yet, the people are beginning to see through it not only because the rhetoric is failing, but also because the people are beginning to experience the consequences of our actions in their own diverse lives. This is why people from such varied backgrounds are standing in solidarity on the issue of climate change and why it was so inspiring to see this happen today.
You should have seen the look on the Board of Regents faces as the members of Divest UW were presenting their speeches. Half of it seemed as though they were shocked that students at the University of Washington who also care about the environment and came in with the support of so many students and community members, could write and speak so eloquently. It looked as though the message may have reached at least a few of them and if so, hopefully enough of them to tip the scales in favor of Divest UW.
One thing is for certain, and I am sure the the Board of Regents and the University of Washington now understand, Divest UW is not going anywhere and will continue to fight for a university divested of fossil fuel that they can be proud of.