Sunrise Bloomington launched its “Disclose Divest Reinvest” campaign at a community town hall event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to promote a shift away from fossil fuels at IU.
A crowd of more than 70 in-person and Zoom attendees listened as student and community speakers voiced goals for the new campaign and motivations for climate action.
“We are here because we care about the IU community and we care about our future,” sophomore and Sunrise Bloomington member Zoe Layton said.
Like many of the night’s speakers, Layton expressed concern for immediate climate effects like recent wildfires and flooding across the United States. When she asked who else felt anxious and uncertain in the face of climate change, nearly every hand in the crowd rose.
“Climate change will impact every part of our lives — where we choose to live, work, whether we will have families,” Layton said. “All I want is a decent life and a better future than one filled with extreme weather and pandemics.”
Layton is one of over 20 active organizers who joined Sunrise Bloomington, a hub of the national Sunrise Movement, since it began this February. The community organization made up of IU students, faculty, community members and local high school students advocates for environmental justice. Its new campaign calls on IU to disclose its investments, divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in sustainable energy.
Calls for divestment, or getting rid of investments in fossil fuel companies, are not unprecedented at IU. The All University Student Organization passed a resolution in 2014 calling for the IU Foundation to “divest its endowment from investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years.” Yet, Sunrise claims IU has not met these goals.
Ross Martinie Eiler, a community member supportive of Sunrise, spoke on divestment at the town hall.
“Investment sheets are moral documents,” Martinie Eller said. “It is our moment to say to the IU Foundation it doesn’t matter what maximizes profits if you sell out future generations.”
As for the group’s next steps, graduate student and Sunrise organizer Ben Tally described Wednesday’s town hall as a turning point. Tally said the group is still focused on growing its organization but now expects to escalate its efforts over the coming year to meet the goals of its campaign.
“What we do is going to depend on the reaction of IU,” he said. “We’ve put all our cards on the table.”
Layton echoed a similar sentiment.
“This is only the first step,” Layton said. “Each time we will come back with more people, more power and with voices louder.”