Members of a student organization called Reinvest IU and others armed with protest signs advocated against fossil fuels Monday as they paraded to IU President Michael McRobbie’s office.
Protesters staged a walkout and a march from Showalter Fountain to McRobbie’s office as part of a national movement to end the use of fossil fuels. The group included 14 members.
“IU is representative of the student population,” junior Kara Duval-Fowler said. “We should have a say. This is a matter of survival.”
Reinvest IU is an organization dedicated to ensuring IU divests from fossil fuels and reinvests in cleaner resources. It works closely with organizations such as , IU Student Sustainability Council, and other Bloomington and University groups.
Duval-Fowler and second-year graduate student Linus Platzer both said Reinvest IU has been in close contact with the IU Foundation in one-on-one meetings, but the meetings have never led to action.
On Monday students were unable to speak directly with McRobbie. Participants Wes Cammenga, Platzer and Duval-Fowler gave short speeches to McRobbie’s two receptionists.
“Given currently existing political and scientific realities, it is pretty clear to us that this is not just something McRobbie might want to do, it’s what he should do,” Cammenga said.
The letter asks McRobbie to make a public statement urging the IU Foundation to refrain from the use of fossil fuels.
IU has a history of resisting the pressure to become more environmentally friendly despite the example of many Indiana schools, Platzer said.
He said the University’s refusal to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment is one example of its refusal to think carefully about the environment.
He also said it’s difficult to find an explanation online behind IU’s choice to neglect environmental issues. He said he believes there can be only two explanations: The information is so bad the University can’t disclose it or IU decision makers don’t want to talk.
He said he wanted to know why.
“Students feel IU is not fulfilling the promise,” Platzer said. “Climate change happens.”
Duval-Fowler said climate change is not just a matter to be conscious of, but, instead, is an issue of life or death everyone should acknowledge.
“There is not a future where we do not divest from fossil fuels, where we don’t shift to renewable energy,” Duval-Fowler said. “There simply is no future, and we ask that President McRobbie considers what he is leaving the rest of us.”
Cammenga discussed the moral obligation to face climate change in his speech.
He said he didn’t want McRobbie to support the letter only because Reinvest IU encouraged him to but because it was in the best interest of everyone for him to do so.
“What we are asking him to doing do, though, is to read this letter we have here very carefully and to think very carefully about whether what we are saying in this letter is correct,” Cammenga said.
Rebecca Mahan, an IU alumna and retired IU professor who taught for 27 years, was in attendance, even though she was surrounded by students younger than 25.
She was sent an email about Student Divestment Network’s national Day of Action, and she said she wants to work alongside Reinvest IU.
Mahan, who taught English to international students, said the parade and letter-delivering was exciting to her because marches occurred daily when she was in college, in stark contrast to now.
She said it was refreshing to see a group of students raising awareness to their peers, especially on a topic she valued.
“I had thousands of students from over 50 countries, and, although they disagreed on other issues, they all agreed on the importance of climate change,” Mahan said.