What began as a movement to divest from coal companies has now turned to greater horizons in an effort to get institutions of higher education to divest from fossil fuel companies. Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) here at University of California, Santa Barbara is campaigning for this movement. EAB is a contributor in a field of statewide, national, and international contributors.
“Our goal is that by the end of the school year to have scheduled a meeting with the chancellor,” said EAB Student Affairs Coordinator Shelby Skougard, a third-year environmental studies major. “And then in the fall, we are officially setting up to have a referendum for next year on the ballot, which would be where all the student body votes on whether they approve it [the divestment] or not.”
“All of the UCs have Fossil Free campaigns except UC Merced,” Skougard added.
However, UC Merced also seems to be in the process of proposing divestment from fossil fuels. According to their Associated Students, UCM AS Senator Marisol Prado introduced a resolution to divest from fossil fuels, which was approved by their AS Senate and AS President on Oct. 6, 2013.
Additionally, at “eight of the nine UCs with Fossil Free campaigns, their associated student bodies have passed resolutions in approval of Fossil Free,” said Skougard. A UCSB AS Senate resolution in favor of fossil fuel divestment was passed on May 30, 2013, and the Santa Barbara Independent reported that the UCSB Academic Senate passed a similar resolution on the same day.
The Fossil Free campaign conducted by EAB consists of a task force of EAB officers and general body members, who are under the guidance of UCSB faculty and the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC).
CSSC Campaign Director Emily Williams counsels EAB on appropriate measures to take in the Fossil Free campaign. Williams is a recent UCSB graduate who now returns as part of CSSC to continue to work on the campaign, a project she worked on as EAB Statewide Affairs Coordinator in late 2012.
“I wanted to continue working on this because the campaign…grew really, really fast and I wanted to see it through, at least on the UC campuses,” said Williams. “I got involved in the first place because it’s the first time that I’ve actually felt like I, as an individual, can do something that will really affect the way our country works…but also felt like I could make a difference in the larger climate justice movement.”
In addition to the “Fossil Free California” campaign, there is a sub-campaign entitled “Fossil Free UC” (FFUC). According to the FFUC, in 2013 the UC Student Association adopted FFUC as a campaign they will support.
Within the FFUC campaign, EAB is primarily working toward a “Fossil Free UCSB.” According to Williams, if UCSB divests from fossil fuel companies, it would freeze future investments on fossil fuel companies, and start rolling out current investments on fossil fuel companies within a five-year period.
Photo Courtesy of Fossil Free