Students rally for awareness of divestment of fossil fuels

At 3:00 p.m on Friday Feb. 3, the Divest UO Campaign, in association with the student group Climate Justice League and 350 Eugene,  held a rally outside of Johnson Hall. The rally called on the University of Oregon Interim President Scott Coltrane to support students and faculty on agreeing to sell the university’s investments with fossil fuel extraction companies.

This rally was held along with many other events across 48 countries in honor of Global Divestment Days.

Global Divestment Days is happening today and tomorrow, bringing awareness to the divestment (the sale of, and or the opposite of investment) of fossil fuels, and the effects of climate change on our planet.

“As students, the future means a lot to all of us,” Kaia Hazard, UO student and organizer for the Divest UO campaign said. “It’s on our minds, you know, in college, so we’re investing our time, our money and our effort to a secure meaningful future for ourselves.”

Seventy-three percent of UO students support divestment, and this week Divest UO has collected over 1,300 signatures in favor of the divestment of fossil fuels at the UO.

“Divestment is important to me because I care about the health of this world that has given so much to me,” Hazard said. “It would be immoral to do anything but work towards divesting our most powerful institutions from fossil fuels.”

According to Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, who spoke at the rally, students and youth play a crucial role, and she encourages them to remain informed and engaged about this issue.

“This divestment movement is very, very important,” University of Oregon Professor of sociology and environmental studies Kari Norgaard said. “It’s a very exciting movement, it’s centrally important for many reasons. It’s important because the fossil fuel industry is not only producing fossil fuels, which we know we need to keep in the ground, but because the fossil fuel industry has captured our political institutions and this is a way of saying no and reclaiming our democracy.”

The city of Eugene adopted a climate recovery ordinance in July, putting the city’s green-house gas goals into law.

After the rally ended, a group of people marched toward the Ford Alumni Center to try to gain the foundations attention.  Two students also planned on going to Johnson Hall to try to get a meeting with Coltrane. They were turned away by a University employee, who told the duo that Coltrane could potentially talk to the group in a week.

“We’ve got your back,” Mayor Piercy said. “The city is committed to leading by example and playing our part to ensure a livable future for our community. Fossil fuel divestment is not only smart and ethical, but it’s also a necessary step for the telling of others to act to the benefit of our climate and global community. We live here together.”

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