Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fossil Fuel Divestment Isn’t Just About the Numbers; It’s About Us

The fossil fuel divestment movement has been building momentum for years. The dialogue and narrative regarding the necessity of divestment has largely focused on the numbers: how many parts per million of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere? What quantity of coal, oil and gas do companies have in their reserves? And how many degrees can the planet warm before human society collapses and the planet experiences mass species extinction?

Though the movement has emphasized, and provided strong answers to these questions backed by hundreds of climate scientists, fossil fuel divestment didn’t start with the numbers or the science. And it won’t end there, either.

In 2014, Tim DeChristopher visited UVM and spoke about the climate crisis and the challenges we face as a movement working towards a just and sustainable future. I was in the audience of a filled lecture hall at the University of Vermont, and DeChristopher hailed the LGBTQA-rights movement’s strength at making their movement fun, about making it solutionary and accepting and intersectional. And though sectors of the LGBTQA movement have some work to do regarding anti-trans and racist violence within the queer community, I do think DeChristopher had a point: the climate justice movement, as it stands, is not the all-encompassing, broad, intersectional and accessible movement that will bring transformative and liberating social change. Rather, the environmental movement must adopt the values, goals, and principles of a movement centered on climate justice, and highlight not only environmental degradation and the extractive oil economy, but the extractive human economy; the economy that is built and sustained on the oppression and domination of poor and working class people, queer people, people of color, transgender people, differently abled people, and indigenous people.

It is in this vein that Student Climate Culture, a UVM student group running UVM’s divestment campaign, is reframing and refocusing our messaging and our goals. In conjunction with divestment campaigns across the country, UVM students are not only demanding that our university cease its investments in the fossil fuel industry; rather, we demand the money currently invested in fossil fuels be re-invested in the liberated future we seek: one that does not tolerate police brutality and the imprisonment of people of color in the new Jim Crow; one that does not tolerate the subjugation and servitude of the working class for the good of the 1%; one that abhors the violence and brutality queer and transgender people face; and one that survives with ecologically sound and sustainable principles, refutes US imperialism and capitalism, and values local, democratically controlled and participatory communities over corporate and US hegemony, domestically and globally.

Student Climate Culture as an organization has much work to do to truly live out the values of collective liberation, anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-ableism.  We see reinvestment as a step towards aligning our actions with our words, and are prepared to engage in the work of building allyship and solidarity, as well as education within our organization, with the vision of building the comprehensive, intersectional and just movement necessary for change.

We invite all interested and passionate people to join us on Friday, February 6th, 2015 to pressure the UVM Board of Trustees to commit to Fossil Fuel Divestment and Just Reinvestment, at 11:30 am in the UVM Davis Center.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Everywhere We Go, People Wanna Know...

This Friday, Students, faculty, staff and supporters rallied to protest the UVM administration's myopic focus on profit. 

students marching outside of the Board of Trustee's meeting

For close to two hours, academics in full regalia, UVM staff, and students with huge divestment posters and signs and supporters from the Vermont Worker's center marched and sang outside of the Board of Trustees meeting in the Davis Center.

The protest represented not only a show of solidarity between different causes around campus, but also the realization that all of us are working towards a stronger voice on campus.

United Academics (the faculty union at UVM) is currently at impasse in negotiations with the administration, as the administration refuses to guarantee severance pay to non-tenured lecturers who have worked for the school for over a decade, and have increased healthcare premiums on the faculty, such that it actually serves as a pay decrease for some of the faculty. At the same time, the administrative salary continues to grow at a rate that far outstrips faculty and staff at the University.

Melissa's sign says it all
With respect to divestment at UVM, we know that we all want a greater voice on campus--if the administration was more open to our opinions and desires, divestment would be an easy sell (we have collected thousands of signatures in support of divestment, and many of UVM's governing bodies have passed resolutions that explicitly support fossil fuel divestment, including United Academics).

The protest was a strong statement that "The University" is not just the administration. Indeed, it sometimes it seems that they are outside of it.
Some United Badassery

Read the Burlington Free Press' coverage here

Friday, October 17, 2014


Today, we'll be collaborating with the campus unions to put on a joint rally to protest the administration's unfair, unaccountable governance of UVM. If you want to help us out, please take the following steps!

  1. Send this email to President Sullivan asking him to shift the skewed balance of power at UVM and to create a new system of shared governance.
  2. Sign our petition, if you haven't already!
  3. When we upload photos and a press release to our Facebook page, share them!

Photos will be posted soon!

When: 10:45-11:30
Where: Library steps
See you there!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marching for the Future

SO, we rocked it.

That's a really short way to say that Student Climate Culture, along with members of the UVM student body, an interfaith delegation and 2,000 (2,000!) other Vermonters made history this weekend by participating in the largest climate march in history.
The student section (photo courtesy of 

 An estimated 400,000 people in total marched in NYC September 21st, with tens of thousands around the world taking part in solidarity marches, from Bolivia to Australia. The march took place two days before today's UN climate summit, a massive show of support for worldwide climate action. What was incredible about the march was the energy--seeing so many people fired up about climate activism! The march brought together indigenous communities, food justice advocates, students and labor groups, children and families. Many of us from UVM marched with students from universities around the country, which naturally included OTHER DIVESTMENT GROUPS! Orange squares abounded.

 It's hard to really explain how inspiring the march was. Maybe because it was the march finally showed a side of the environmental movement that we haven't seen much of yet-- a diverse group of activists, united around a common message, making the fight we face political and personal. Maybe the march at one point stretched for 4 miles in midtown Manhattan. Maybe because there were 400,000 protesters, and not a single reported arrest.
Protesters take Times Square! Photo courtesy of

 At 12:58, the entire crowd was silent to honor those who have died as a result of climate change, followed by a roar of outrage that came from the back of the march and built until we were all screaming and stamping. Us protesters might have returned to Burlington in the wee hours of the night, exhausted and with shredded vocal chords, but it was worth it to be a part of something so awesome.

 Wanna know more? Click here or here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

So What does the Orange Square Even Mean?

I'm so glad you asked.
The red square was crafted to be the symbol of student power- because as college students we are 'squarely in the red' (get it?). The sign specifically comes from student protests in Quebec, where students went on strike for lower tuition. (Read about it here) The Divest movement did not want to be lumped with the 'green' movement- we are new, mobilized and ready for action- and we know that climate justice is about more than the Sierra Club. So the orange square was chosen as a nod to student power.

Here's a great photo from another university divestment campaign (Image courtesy of