Saving the Planet: UMass Divestment Campaign

On a rainy Wednesday night on October 28, 2015, students gather at the Student Union to save the world. The University of Massachusetts Amherst Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign is a student run organization that aims to promote social and climate justice within society. Meeting in the Center of Education Policy and Advocacy room every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m., members of UMass Divest gather to discuss, plan, and engage ways to educate people on acting in climate change divestment.

At the meeting, member Devon King participates in a group discussion addressing current climate change events going on and participates in one on one discussions about topics within the subject of climate justice. After breaking for a couple of minutes, the group then continues their conversation in a larger discussion among all the members of the group. At one point, a video is shown of a previous teach-in that UMass Divest held a couple years back and another video of a trailer of the climate change documentary “This Changes Everything.”

UMass Divest has taken several actions to promote the divestment from fossil fuels on campus. “Internally, we are trying to push administration and the board of trustees to agree to divestment,” said King, “Externally, we have organized multiple actions at the board of trustees meetings, we organize teach-ins and events and we table in the student union.” Currently, UMass Divest is planning a teach-in modeled after the one conducted 2 years ago. “It was this incredible thing,” said member Alison Rigney, “there was a line out the door, and people were waiting to get into this teach-in.”

To promote their cause, UMass Divest networks thoroughly by reaching out to faculty and staff of UMass, alumni, graduate students, and community members within the area. For UMass Divest, they believe that the need for climate change education is crucial. “We firmly believe that if we do not succeed in a just democratic transition towards renewable energies and a more sustainable society, that the consequences of climate change will be disastrous for not only low income communities and people of color but for the greater society as a whole,” said King. King became a part of UMass Divest after his eco-rep facilitator invited him and others who might be interested to an UMass Divest meeting, “ever since then I’ve just be interested in its campaign and its goals,” said King.

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