Following sit ins at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, UCSB pressures Regent Sherman to cut fossil fuel ties
SANTA BARBARA, Ca. - Students from UCSB walked into Cheadle Hall, the campus administration building, and are sitting in to pressure UC Regent Sherman to divest the $2.8 billion the UC currently has invested in fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free UCSB coordinated the effort to bring students from every corner of campus to the sit in. UCSB’s chancellor, Henry Yang, embraces the campaign.
Celeste Argueta, a first year at UCSB from the Central Valley, said “it is unconscionable for the UC to declare itself a leader in sustainability yet still invest billions in fossil fuel companies that threaten the future security of its students and our climate. The money Regent Sherman invests pollutes and exploits low income communities and communities of color across California. The clear hypocrisy is turning a lot of students away from further involvement in the UC’s sustainability programs.”
The sit in comes one week before the Regents quarterly meeting. The move follows similar actions at other UC campuses, such as UC Berkeley, where over 50 students sat in on April 24th, and the UC decided to arrest 2 students rather than dialogue with students. Last week, over 40 UC Davis students sat in at Mrak hall and 25 students slept over, risking arrest and citations. More UC campuses are expected to take action this week. All Fossil Free UC actions are strictly nonviolent and peaceful.
“We’re sitting in this week because remaining neutral to the recklessness of the fossil fuel industry is no longer an option for Regent Sherman when our government is in bed with the very industry that threatens students and our communities,” explained political science major and third year, Cassie Macy. “Students have been campaigning for four years and we’ve had to escalate our campaign because we’ve gone through all of the institutional channels, proven the UC community’s support for divestment, but Regent Sherman has still refused to divest. Investment in fossil fuels is dangerous at a time, when more than ever, we need to move to a greener, cleaner and fairer economy. Let’s invest in that instead.”
Fossil Free UCSB is part of a larger network of UC campus divestment campaigns all calling upon the UC to sever links with the fossil fuel industry. They have successfully pressured the UC to divest $200 million from coal and tar sands and to commit to divesting another $150 million from oil and gas companies - including those building the Dakota Access Pipeline. Students say that partial divestment is not enough to stigmatize a whole industry where 80% of fossil fuels must stay in the ground and that damages our our California communities. These investments completely undermine the UC’s mission statement. UC students are part of the global fossil fuel divestment movement which has got nearly 720 institutions all over the world to withhold $5.45trillion from fossil fuels.