Guest Viewpoint: It’s time to begin a sustainable revolution

This piece reflects the views of the author, Joel Benner, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected]

Divestment, socially responsible investment, investment in your children’s future, these are all different ways to say the same thing; the time has come to transition out of the industrial revolution era and instead begin a sustainable revolution. Large wholescale changes – like the one we need to make – in this world are rare, and those that leave their mark on history are even rarer.

As Robert Kennedy said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” This quote exemplifies exactly how civil rights and women’s suffrage were gained, and presents the only way that we have a chance to slow the effects of climate change.

Here at the University of Oregon the Climate Justice League, an environmental activism club, is doing just that. We are trying to take baby steps towards the goal of sustainability by getting the UO to remove their investments in fossil fuel companies. The school currently has half a percent invested in these companies totaling upwards of $1.3 million and our group has been staging a sit-in for the past two weeks in order to make this happen. Over 50 universities have already divested, so why is the UO, a sustainability icon in the academic world, lagging behind?

The university is caught in a conflict of interests. Clearly the students and faculty support the idea of divestment, this is shown in over 1100 student signatures and the UO Senate voting unanimously in favor of a resolution suggesting full divestment within 6 months. This resolution was passed on Jan. 14, 2015 yet the UO foundation has done nothing.

There is a clear disconnect between the faculty and students, and the administration who, state in the University mission statement that they “…value our shared change to steward resources sustainably and responsibly” and, “…enhance the social, cultural, physical and economic wellbeing of our students, Oregon, the nation and the world”.

The administration is not doing enough on the issue of global climate change and it is surprising that a school that claims to be sustainable is fighting a cause against its own students and faculty that will enhance the social, cultural and physical wellbeing of students, Oregon, the nation and the world.

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Tanner Owens

Tanner Owens