By Elizabeth Haas
Seventeen students chanted as they marched from MUB 203, through Union Court, past the MUB Ticket Office, across the MUB courtyard and onto Thompson Hall Lawn, stopping in front of Thompson Hall.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
“The goal was to display student support for divestment before we meet with the administration,” said junior Griffin Sinclair-Wingate, a coordinator of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) divestment campaign.
Friday’s rally began at 11:30 a.m. with a teach-in held in MUB 203. Students discussed what fossil fuel divestment, or stopping investment in stocks, bonds and investment funds that support the fossil fuel industry, means for UNH, which currently has over $6 million invested in fossil fuels according to the group’s Facebook page.
“We have to show President Huddleston what we’re made of,” sophomore divestment coordinator and teach-in leader Robert Keefe told students before the march. “We have to be loud. We have to make sure everyone on campus hears us.”
Students then practiced chants and took up signs saying “Divest UNH” and “Pres. Huddleston, Don’t Be a Fossil Fool!” before beginning their march at noon.
Upon reaching Thompson Hall, the marchers congregated and ceased chanting. Keefe and Sinclair-Wingate then spoke in support of divestment. Keefe compared the negative impact the fossil fuel industry has on the environment to the adverse health effects caused by the tobacco industry’s products. He said if UNH doesn’t support tobacco, then it shouldn’t support fossil fuels either.
“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.”
The group then snapped a few pictures in front of Thompson Hall to spread the word on social media and brought their signs back to the SEAC office in MUB 139.
Sinclair-Wingate said the campaign plans to meet with the administration later in November, but the exact date has not been determined. By the end of the semester, the group hopes to meet with the UNH Asset Allocation Committee to make their case for divestment.
Last February, SEAC’s campaign brought a petition with 572 student signatures in support of divestment to Huddleston’s office on Global Divestment Day. Their request was denied. Less than a week later, in his State of the University Address, Huddleston said that total divestment from fossil fuels was not the answer.
However, SEAC is continuing to push UNH to join other U.S. and international universities in divestment from fossil fuels, including the University of Maine, which pledged to divest from coal in January 2016.