Fossil Free NU holds teach-in on climate justice

Allyson Chiu, Reporter

Members of Fossil Free NU, formerly DivestNU, held a teach-in on Thursday to inform Northwestern students about climate justice and the effect of climate change on marginalized communities.

The organization chose climate justice as this quarter’s focus topic because it wanted to inform students that climate change affects people as well as the environment, said Medill junior Scott Brown, Fossil Free NU’s campaign coordinator and a former Daily staffer.

“Climate change is an issue that, at its core, is a social justice issue,” Brown said. “We wanted to get the message out there because most people still associate climate change with polar bears and destroying the rainforest, so we’d like to fight back against that stereotype.”

Speaking to about 20 students in Harris Hall, Fossil Free NU members presented on topics such as the dangers of harvesting tar sands and the corporate influence of oil companies. The teach-in was organized by Fossil Free NU’s leadership team and subtopics were chosen by individual presenters.

The student group organized the event in preparation for its march on the upcoming meeting of NU’s Board of Trustees, said SESP junior Christina Cilento, the group’s campus outreach coordinator.

“We’ve been existing on this campus since 2012, and as a movement we felt that it was really important everyone on campus knew what we were doing,” Cilento said. “We want to keep up momentum and build a strong coalition of students who care about this issue within the student body.”

Fossil Free NU is planning to march from Norris University Center to the Allen Center — where the meeting will be held — and rally for the University to divest from fossil fuels, said McCormick junior Natalie Ward, the group’s communications coordinator.

“We’re hoping for the Board of Trustees to start including us in conversations about sustainable investments or for them to make a public announcement saying they’ve divested from coal and they won’t re-invest in coal,” Ward said.

In addition to lobbying the Board of Trustees, Cilento said the other part of the organization’s mission is to educate and engage the student body, which is done through the teach-ins.

Former NU student and Fossil Free NU member Noah Becker, who transferred to the New School in New York City, attended the presentation and said learning about this different perspective on climate change allowed him to be more connected to the issue.

“I thought that they established really strong information that is really powerful and gives a human face to all of the issues surrounding climate change,” Becker said. “With climate change it’s very easy to say that the temperature of the world is rising, but I think that in order to mobilize people for climate change you have to put a face to that movement. I feel much more in touch with how this affects people.”

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