Dozens of people attended a protest on the University of Oregon campus this afternoon that was organized by Divest UO — a joint student and faculty campaign opposed to the UO Foundation’s investment in fossil fuel companies — to bring attention to its cause.
Beginning at roughly 12 p.m., the attendees listened to speakers from the UO community make their cases about fossil fuels’ relation to climate change. The rally group then marched to the Ford Alumni Center to protest the UO Foundation. After the march concluded, members of the UO Climate Justice League — a student group on campus — and 350 Eugene — a local environmental group — participated in a sit-in protest at Johnson hall.
The rally kicked off with speeches from — among others — Canadian author, filmmaker and activist Naomi Klein and UO associate professor Michael Dreiling.
“The climate is a’changing, and there is no denying,” Dreiling said to a then-growing crowd outside of the Johnson Hall administration building. “This January was the hottest that has been recorded in 135 years.”
The UO Foundation is a non-profit corporation that is responsible for deciding how to use financial donations the university receives. Because of this, it is technically not an arm of the University and does not have to answer to the UO Senate, which voted unanimously to ask the foundation to end divestment in fossil fuels last January.
“The UO is supposed to be preparing us for the future,” said Kaia Hazard, a Divest UO organizer. “But what is the [UO] Foundation doing? Destroying our future by investing millions in fossil fuels that are heating our planet.”
The UO Foundation spends 1.5 percent of the total university endowment on fossil fuel infrastructure, according to Climate Justice League. This could equal as much as $4 million.
While UO President Michael Schill has not taken a public stance on the UO Foundation’s investment in fossil fuels, he has encouraged the foundation to increase its overall endowment.
Once the march concluded, rally members comprised of students, faculty and Eugene residents entered Johnson Hall to conduct a sit-in and silently protest the actions of the UO administration. UO Divest leaders said that they hope the sit-in will continue until about 5 p.m.
Divest UO held a similar rally to today’s in April 2015.
More to come.