Divest: fighting for a greener campus

Lauren Sluss, News Contributor

Student led organization encourages OSU to cut fossil fuel consumption

Working to make the Oregon State University campus more sustainable, Divest, a student-led organization at Oregon State University, collaborates with students, policy makers and other schools in order to reduce and eventually cut out the use of fossil fuels within campus buildings.  

“The concept of divesting in the context of our movement is to demand our school to divest, or remove, any investments in fossil fuels or companies who use fossil fuels,” said Divest core member Julia Bingham.

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Divest’s specific focus this year is to encourage the university to remove its investments in the top 200 publicly-traded companies who use fossil fuels as their main energy source. Although Divest works closely with students, they are fighting the policies of larger outside organizations.

“Several clubs and organizations are doing really amazing work focused on things that happen directly on campus and what students are experiencing every day,” said Divest core member Jesse Pettibone. “Although this work is important, there is a lot of unseen power on a larger institutional level. It’s important that we have people come together to show their power in society over something larger than just on campus.”

The Divest movement was founded more than a decade ago. Although the process of incorporating divesting into policy is a long process, Divest members remain hopeful for their current and future progress.

“Maintaining the earth is a global issue, and it’s something that we all should get involved with,” said Divest core member Amy Hickey.  “This issue won’t be fixed by next year, but if we come together we can make some real progress.”

Although this initiative will not change official OSU public policy, it will give student support to the movement and challenge The OSU Foundation. According to Bingham, The OSU Foundation is a separate entity for OSU itself. This organization determines the allocation of donor funds and extra funds, with the purpose of generating revenue for the school by funding buildings and resources.

“We already have a couple thousand signatures, and after receiving a couple hundred more we will approach The Foundation with our initiative to divest,” Bingham said.

This year the club is focusing on promoting an initiative to divest that would be voted on by the student body.

“Divest wants to have donors to the Foundation on board, offering them the option to donate their money into resources which do not use fossil fuels,” Bingham said.

Although promoting the initiative is the main focus of this year, Divest has conducted several demonstrations in the past. Last December, Divest members set up a table in the MU quad where members then stood behind a sign stating ‘Your Choice is Threatening our Future’ while holding gas nozzles to their heads.

“This dramatic demonstration symbolized the threat gas and fossil fuels in general have over people’s lives,” Hickey said.

Divest is also hosting a tabling event today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Plaza outside of the Student Experience Center. Students are encouraged to stop by and receive further information about the organization and ways to get involved.

“Our movement takes on the skills and wishes of the people who are in it,” said Pettibone. “If people have dreams or visions or creative ideas, it’s a really cool way to see those implemented to make a positive change in the world.”

These demonstrations are organized and conducted by Divest members. The club currently consists of 5 main core members including Bingham, Hickey and Pettibone. The core members meet Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Experience Center. Along with the core members, Divest also currently has around a total of 10 general members. General meetings take place the Monday after each event in the MU 212.

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