Fossil Free Cal hosts fossil fuel divestment march

Mitzi Perez/Staff

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About 30 students and community members marched through the city south of campus Wednesday night to protest the UC Board of Regents’ continued stock holdings in fossil fuel companies.

Although the regents announced last month that they had sold approximately $200 million worth of direct holdings in coal and oil sands companies, the UC Board of Regents Committee on Investments voted in 2014 to not wholly divest from oil, coal and fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free Cal, the campus organization that hosted Wednesday’s march, said on the event Facebook page that the UC system’s “commitment to divest from coal and oil sands” was “a great start,” but the group will continue to push for complete divestment.

According to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, however, the UC system’s actions last month were not a “divestment,” which typically suggests political or moral motivations, but rather a “disinvestment.” The motivation behind the decision to sell the university’s coal and oil sands holdings was primarily economic, she said, although the UC system does take into account environmental and other risks when making policy decisions.

Wednesday’s march was led by a group of people carrying large LED letters that spelled “UC DIVEST NOW.” Protesters began marching at the intersection of College Avenue and Bancroft Way and continued into both the Unit 1 and Unit 2 courtyards, where people made speeches about the purpose of the protest. At the end of each speech, participants urged the onlooking students to come “out of the dorms and into the streets” to join the march.

According to Tyler Jacobson, a campus freshman and member of Fossil Free Cal, one of the main purposes of the protest was to get their message out to the student body in order to garner support for their cause.

“The UC is an extension of all of us,” Jacobson said. “It’s supposed to represent our interests.”

The march continued up Dwight Way and onto Piedmont Avenue, followed by a police car and a group of other cars. Onlooking students yelled their support as the march went on.

The group stopped again on the steps of the campus’s International House, where a speaker explained they were “demanding that our university divest,” and asked students to come out to show their support.

The protest ended where it began: at the intersection of College and Bancroft.

Matt Vannucci, a doctoral student in civil engineering and one of the organizers of the protest, said Wednesday’s march was part of Fossil Free Cal’s build up to a larger Bay Area climate march in November. At the November march, Fossil Free Cal hopes to make the broader environmental community aware of the divestment campaign.

“(Divestment) isn’t just a campus issue,” Vannucci said. “It’s a global issue that everyone should care about.”

Contact Laurel Bard at [email protected].