Students demand divestment from coal

Isabella Jiao, Reporter

Chanting slogans such as “Not another Harvard, our leadership is smarter,” a group of students led by Fossil Free Northwestern marched through campus to attract the Board of Trustees’ attention, demanding the University withdraw its investments in coal plants after Northwestern signed the the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.

Around 50 students marched from Norris University Center to the James L. Allen Center on Friday, where the Board of Trustees was meeting. The crowd gathered at the entrance of James L. Allen Center holding up their cellphone lights and signs with slogans such as “There is No Planet B” and “Invest In Sun & Wind.”

NU is the third U.S university to sign the principles after Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley.

Kara Rodby, a McCormick junior studying environmental engineering, said although signing the principles is a positive step, she is afraid it is an empty gesture by the board of trustees.

“We are not fooled by your gestures,” Rodby said while in the crowd. “We are going to continue to fight.”

The group then marched to the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion where they knew the Board of Trustees was having dinner. Waiting in the elevator lobby, the students were met by T. Bondurant French, who serves on NU’s Board of Trustees. He gave credit to the students and then said NU has a negligible holding in coal plants.

“I just don’t know why they are so attached to this last bit of coal,” said SESP junior Christina Cilento, a spokeswoman for Fossil Free NU. “Why is it so hard to get rid of it?”

The students ended the protest by having a moment of silence in remembrance of those who suffer due to climate change all over the world.

Cilento said the demonstration on the whole was successful although the Board of Trustees did not promise to divest from coal.

“To me they are just giving a symbolic gesture to what we care about but are not putting anything into action,” Cilento said. “It seems like we are doing it because Harvard did it.”

Some residents from the local area also joined the student demonstration. Catherine Buntin, who lives in Evanston and is part of the Chicago Area Peace Action, participated in the march.

“You are doing a great service to my grandchildren,” Buntin said to the students.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @JiaoYawen