Fossil Free WashU calls for the University to ‘break up’ with fossil fuels this Valentine’s Day

| Senior News Editor

Fossil Free WashU celebrated National Day of Divestment, Feb. 13, with “Break Up with Fossil Fuels,” a rally calling for Washington University to “break up with” and divest from fossil fuels.

Courtesy of Maeve Hindenburg

The organization is asking for Chancellor Andrew Martin to make a public acknowledgement of Fossil Free WashU by March 31, when the University will release a statement of principles on socially responsible investment. During the rally, FFWU members walked around Tisch Commons, asking students to sign their petition for divestment, which currently has 2,059 signatures.

Over 50 institutions participated in National Day of Divestment, hosting actions and rallies across the country.

The rally was originally supposed to be held outside in the Danforth University Center (DUC) firepit, but was moved to Tisch Commons because of inclement weather. Members of the group entered the DUC chanting, “What do we want? Divestment! When do we want it? Now!” and “Wash. U.! Divest!”

Afterwards, the group moved up the DUC’s main staircase overlooking Tisch Commons, where sophomore Christina Lee and Associate Professor of Anthropology Bret Gustafson spoke. Gustafson called out the University for sending the Washington University Police Department and representatives from the Chancellor’s Office to police students instead of taking action on divestment or climate change.

Gustafson also expressed his disappointment with the University’s perceived apathy towards climate change.

“Chancellor Martin says that he cares about climate change, but you cannot simultaneously care about climate change and profit from those that are profiting from warming the planet,” Gustafson said. “So, apparently, they are concerned about something, but it doesn’t appear to be climate change.”

In an interview with Student Life, senior Khalid Mahmood, Fossil Free WashU’s lead organizer, said that he was pleased with the event overall, even though the weather changed the group’s plans at the last minute.

“I’m happy with what we got,” Mahmood said. “Especially with the captive audience inside the DUC, I think a lot of people heard our message, maybe people that may not have turned out in the first place, so I think we’ve done a good job spreading our message to the broader Wash. U. community.”

This semester, the organization also plans to hold an event for Earth Week and for the 50th anniversary Earth Day celebration. They also hope to get more students involved in the campaign by tabling and hosting additional events.

Director of Communications sophomore Maeve Hindenburg said that with a new chancellor, the organization is more optimistic about the future of Fossil Free.

“With the old chancellor…he’s very against us so we knew we wouldn’t have been able to make any headway with him, we just had to demonstrate that we had power,” Hindenburg said. “With the new chancellor, Martin, we’ve been trying to meet with him more and just trying to show how we are holding power. We have more police here than we have in the past showing that they are getting more scared of us, at least, and we are hoping for more with Chancellor Martin in the future. We just aren’t sure yet.”

Additional Reporting by Ted Moskal

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