Last February, SEAC tried again, this time presenting Huddleston with 572 student signatures on Global Divestment Day. Less than a week later, in his State of the University address, Huddleston said that total divestment from fossil fuels was not the answer.
SEAC has not given up.
This semester, the organization created a Divestment Campaign that meets Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. in MUB 139, outside of SEAC’s general meetings from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays in MUB 302, to organize rallies and teach-ins to show Huddleston and the rest of the administration that UNH students still support fossil fuel divestment. The group held its first teach-in and rally on November 13.
“We have to show President Huddleston what we’re made of,” sophomore divestment coordinator and teach-in leader Robert Keefe said to begin the 11:30 a.m. teach-in in MUB 203. “We have to be loud. We have to make sure everyone on campus hears us.”
Keefe then asked the 17 students gathered to take seven minutes to talk in groups about what “divestment” and “climate justice” meant to them. The students wrote their ideas on colored construction paper and taped them to a white board.
Keefe said all of their answers were correct, pieces that fit together to show the importance of the terms and the meaning behind them.
The students then practiced chants for the march before watching 350.org’s documentary “Why Divest From Fossil Fuels?”
At noon, the students gathered “Divest UNH” and “Pres. Huddleston, Don’t Be a Fossil Fool!” signs, a banner, and some windmills to begin their march through Union Court, past the MUB Ticket Office, across the MUB courtyard and onto Thompson Hall Lawn.
The students stopped in front of Thompson Hall to listen to divestment coordinators Keefe and Griffin Sinclair-Wingate speak out against investing in the fossil fuel industry.
According to Sinclair-Wingate, the rally’s goal was to show student support for divestment before campaign members meet with the administration officially later in the month. An official meeting date has not been made. By the end of the semester, the group hopes to meet with with the UNH Asset Allocation Committee to present its case for divestment.
“UNH cannot continue to invest in an industry whose business model is detrimental to the health of our planet,” said Sinclair-Wingate. “The fossil fuel industry’s reserves contain five times more fossil fuels than scientists say is safe to burn. We need to be investing in our future, not the destruction of it.”
At the end of the rally, students snapped a few pictures for social media and gave one final chant in front of Thompson Hall before bring their signs back to the MUB.
The campaign for fossil fuel divestment extends beyond UNH. Four hundred and eighty-four institutions world-wide, including the University of Hawaii and the University of Maine, have divested over 2.5 trillion dollars from the fossil fuel industry.
For more information about the divestment movement at UNH, check out The New Hampshire’s coverage of the campaign’s efforts.