A call for fossil fuel divestment hits Auraria
Students urge campuses to take money out of big oil
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 03:02
On Feb. 17, 350.org, along with the International Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign gathered at the Auraria campus to march in a rally against the threat of climate change, and to encourage colleges to divest from fossil fuel companies that jeopardize the future of its students.
Rally participants, dressed in black, gathered at the Tivoli and marched to Civic Center Park as a human pipeline representing the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that is said to run from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
“We all believe that it is immoral and unjust for companies to profit off of destroying our environment, and it should be immoral and unjust for our education to be funded by those projects,” said Mark Chavez, organizer to the IFFDC.
Andrea Dreiling, a student at CU Denver and member of the IFFDC, was among those who marched. “Today we are marching in solidarity with another march that is happening in Washington, D.C. to urge President Obama not to sign off on exploration into the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Dreiling said. “The pipeline would be transporting highly volatile bitumen material that is abrasive, so the likelihood of a spill is high.”
If the pipeline were to burst, it would threaten everything in its path from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. If moved forward, the pipeline threatens the delta tributary of the Mississippi River that is home to many Native American tribes.
Currently, $25 million that is coming from the students is being invested in stocks that go to help further the oil industry, and the International Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign is working to change that.
Neither CU Denver nor MSU Denver responded to Chavez’s requests for comments on the rally, but Cliff Richardson, President of CCD, told the IFFDC that because CCD is part of the College of Colorado system, there is little the administration can do about divesting.
This information led Chavez to begin working on a state-level divestment campaign with hopes to reach state legislatures. The ideal outcome would be a resolution drawn to initiate a complete divestment.
Once participants reached Civic Center Park, they formed a human oil spill surrounding a banner, which read, “ForwardOnClimate” before convening for a rally led by 12-year-old environmental activist, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez.
“I was raised in the Aztec tradition learning that all life was sacred and all life needed to be protected and that it was up to us to protect the earth,” Martinez said. “Climate change is not something that can be solved by politics … it’s going to be solved by day-to-day action. It’s going to be solved by a revolution started by the people.”
Several environmental organizations relayed their message on climate change at the rally, but the message for Auraria Campus was clear. “We are going to school to ensure that we have a secure future,” Chavez said. “And if our education is a direct contradiction of the pursuit something is severely wrong with that system, that is why we must fight to try and get our schools to divest.”