Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Divest UMass thank participants, celebrates Meehan’s statement

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(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

University of Massachusetts system President Marty Meehan guaranteed the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign that a vote on total divestment from fossil fuel companies would be on the Board of Trustees agenda at its June 15 meeting, according to Divest UMass organizer Sarah Jacqz.

At the final Divest UMass rally of the semester Jacqz, a sophomore BDIC major, said Meehan confirmed to members of the campaign in a meeting held earlier in the day that the issue would be voted on at both the Board of Trustees meeting and a meeting of the UMass Foundation to be held no later than one week after the former meeting.

“President Meehan wants to make UMass the first public university system to completely divest from fossil fuels,” Jacqz said to the roughly 120 who attended the 6 p.m. rally.

Kristie Herman, one of the organizers of Divest UMass and a psychology student, thanked those listening to the rally for their participation in the sit-ins and support of the campaign.

“We have won in so many ways,” Herman said. “We have won in the eyes of the administration and we have won in our eyes.”

Herman said that, while satisfied by the commitment of the Board of Trustees vote, Divest UMass needs to continue working to continue their work, and that she wants to see the UMass system divest from prisons as well as fossil fuel companies.

“We need to keep fighting and now we know we can do it,” she said.

Josh Odam, a junior studying political science and economics who is the UMass student trustee-elect, said he would push to ensure full divestment from fossil fuels is enacted in his new position.

“I really want to take a moment, all of us, to understand the magnitude of this situation,” Odam said. “We are this close from being the first public university to divest.”

Lena Fletcher, a faculty member in the UMass Department of Environmental Conservation, also spoke at the rally, and said the Divest UMass rallies spurred a new volume of conversation about climate change on the UMass campus.

Fletcher encouraged the students involved in Divest UMass to continue fighting against climate change, which Fletcher said would require a massive degree of effort throughout the globe.

“When you look directly at this issue, you can’t not care,” she said.

Susan Theberge, the co-founder of the western Massachusetts advocacy groups Climate Action Now, spoke at the rally, praising the students who participated in the actions of Divest UMass over the past two weeks.

Theberge evoked the cancellation of the Kinder Morgan pipeline yesterday, which would have run through western Massachusetts, and said activists were helping to prevent the effects of climate change.

“The only way we’re going to survive with a livable planet is for us all to work with each other,” Theberge said.

After the rally, Jacqz said Meehan personally expressed a strong statement of support for divesting UMass from fossil fuel companies and that Meehan had acknowledged the work done by supporters of the campaign.

Jacqz said that Divest UMass will now seek to ensure that a vote on divestment is on the Board of Trustees and UMass Foundation meeting agendas in June.

“Right now we’re going to focus on making sure those votes do happen and that divestment moves forward,” she said.

The rally on Thursday brought to an end two weeks of action from Divest UMass which saw sit-ins at the Whitmore Administration Building, multiple rallies and the arrests of 34 people.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Divest UMass thank participants, celebrates Meehan’s statement”

  1. David Fitzgerald on April 22nd, 2016 11:06 pm

    I have been predicting Divest UMass will be victorious, and now it seems that victory is at hand.

    This will be a hollow, completely empty victory. Divestment does not stop the use of even one molecule of fossil fuel. This is why they must “continue fighting against climate change”, because what is being done now amounts to very little, more like nothing at all.

    There is a very good reason why UMass will be the first public university in the country to divest. That’s because divestment is no big deal. If it was, other public universities would have already done so. And we all know that UMass will continue to buy the products of some of these companies, because giant campuses like this one are run on fossil fuels.

    Others may disagree, but I think this sums things up nicely.

    Now what? What are the next steps, you know, to do something that actually reduces the use of some molecules of fossil fuels?

    That’s not a rhetorical question. I would be very interested to hear what plans are being formed right now.

    David Fitzgerald, concerned human being

    [Reply]

  2. David Fitzgerald on April 23rd, 2016 6:16 pm

    “Susan Theberge, the co-founder of the western Massachusetts advocacy groups Climate Action Now, spoke at the rally, praising the students who participated in the actions of Divest UMass over the past two weeks.
    Theberge evoked the cancellation of the Kinder Morgan pipeline yesterday, which would have run through western Massachusetts, and said activists were helping to prevent the effects of climate change.”

    Berkshire Gas runs a pipeline to the UMass central heating plant so that UMass can buy its natural gas and burn it there. UIL, the parent company of BG, was an investor in the cancelled KM pipeline.

    Perhaps the group Climate Action Now can work against the pipeline to UMass also. That would be consistent with their work against the KM pipeline.

    I would think this group would be opposed to the way UMass buys natgas from UIL through their pipeline.

    It’s rich with irony that the speaker was at UMass, where massive amounts of natgas are piped in.

    David Fitzgerald, concerned human being

    [Reply]

  3. David Fitzgerald on April 23rd, 2016 10:28 pm

    “Lena Fletcher, a faculty member in the UMass Department of Environmental Conservation, also spoke at the rally, and said the Divest UMass rallies spurred a new volume of conversation about climate change on the UMass campus.”

    A higher volume of conversation, for sure.
    About how the UMass campus is powered 24 7 by fossil fuels.
    About how divestment doesn’t stop the use of even one molecule of fossil fuel.
    About how this young adult generation uses lots of fossil fuels like any other generation.
    About how most persons are concerned about climate change but won’t reduce their own fossil fuel usage.
    About how fossil fuels are used in the entire manufacturing process, from the mining of raw materials, to the assembly in factories, to the delivery in diesel trucks.
    About how fossil fuels are used in the entire process of large scale farming, to the often cross country shipment of food, even the shipment of much of our food from distant countries.
    About how fossil fuels are used in the entire manufacturing process of so-called alternative energy equipment, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and finally through the delivery of such equipment once again in diesel trucks.

    Yes, much conversation lately about how fossil fuels are essential in every part of techno-industrial civilization.

    David Fitzgerald, concerned human being

    [Reply]

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