Student Senate passes resolution following Pedal to Divestment event

Students gathered at the campus mall and biked in protest of UWEC’s investments in fossil fuels

Student+Senate+passes+resolution+following+Pedal+to+Divestment+event

Photo by McKenna Dirks

With a goal to support the UW System and Foundation’s divestment from fossil fuels, a Pedal to Divestment bike rally was hosted by the UW Divestment Coalition on April 19 at the campus mall.

Maddie Loeffler, a third-year environmental geography student and one of the organizers of the event, said the event was a biking and walking rally to support divestment from fossil fuels, particularly in the UW Foundation.

“We held Pedal to Divestment to raise awareness and cultivate more understanding around fossil fuel investment,” Loeffler said. “The larger purpose is to discourage our university system from investing in environmental injustice.”

Hanna Dockter, a third-year communication sciences and disorders student and another organizer, said there is a bigger picture in relation to divesting from fossil fuels.

“Climate justice is social justice,” Dockter said. “The negative impacts of global warming and climate change is disproportionality affecting people of color and low socioeconomic status and I don’t want our school system to be promoting that.”

Leah Woodward, a second-year English critical studies student and another organizer of the event, said the event is also to show which UW-Eau Claire students are supportive of divesting from fossil fuels.

Divesting in fossil fuels and holding the school accountable forces UW-Eau Claire to be transparent with its decisions and where it is investing money, Woodward said.

There were many benefits to divesting in fossil fuels and the people who donate the money will receive better rewards in the long run, Dockter said.

“We’ll have a cleaner community,” Dockter said. “Green living and green energy are becoming more popular and future incoming students will start to (look) for in schools like UW-Eau Claire.”

Participants gathered at 4:30 p.m. on April 19 at the campus mall and wore wearable posters pinned on their clothes, Loeffler said.

Although the group was smaller than originally planned because of the weather, it was still meaningful to have discussions about divestment, Loeffler said. People will be able to spread the word about divestment in the future.

The group attended the Student Senate meeting to introduce Loeffler’s Fossil Fuel Divestment resolution which passed unanimously, she said.

Loeffler was surprised by how well-received the resolution was by the Student Senate. Beforehand, she thought there would be quite a bit of pushback from student senators, but they just asked for more information regarding divestment.

“They understood the importance of divestment in the context of the existential threat of climate change,” Loeffler said.

Dockter and Woodward were also excited about the news, they each said.

“We are really excited that it’s gone through Student Senate and we have their support,” Dockter said. “There’s power in the passing of the resolution and being able to have it on paper officially.”

Pedal to Divestment was a part of the UW Divestment Coalition occurring across UW System schools.

According to the website, their goals are “transparency and disclosure of all UW investments, the cessation of all new investments in oil, gas and coal companies, the sale of existing investments tied to oil, gas and coal in the next three to five years and the investment in clean energy solutions.”

By working with UWDC, Woodward, Dockter and Loeffler plan to hold more events to continue advocating for divesting from fossil fuels, each of them said.

Interested people can sign the petition to “unite students, faculty and alumni of the University of Wisconsin System and demand a just divestment from fossil fuels to combat the climate crisis.”

Outside of the petition, Woodward, Loeffler and Dockter recommend checking out the UWDC’s website to stay up-to-date on their goals and how else to support them.

Lunderville can be reached at [email protected].