After a four-day sit-in, UC Santa Barbara students won the endorsement of Chancellor Henry Yang on the divestiture of the University of California’s $2.8 billion in its endowment from fossil fuel companies.
Margaret Klawunn, vice president of student affairs, delivered the statement May 11 on behalf of the chancellor at Cheadle Hall, where around 400 students, faculty and staff took part in the sit-in.
“In the coming week, I look forward to working with my fellow chancellors in support of a thorough and transparent discussion on divestment from fossil fuels as part of the UC’s approach to combating the climate crisis,” Yang’s statement said.
Investments should instead go toward more sustainable companies, said Cassie Macy, a spokeswoman for the student group Fossil Free UCSB that organized the protest.
The first step is to get out of fossil fuels, Macy said, but “we’ve shown them that investments in sustainable companies have almost no difference in financial results. So we think that it’s very important that we invest in these companies that will better our future.”
The effects of climate change affect marginalized communities most strongly, said fellow spokeswoman Celeste Argueta, including air quality and coastal erosion.
The campus has seen campaigns against fossil fuel investments since 2012, and other UC campuses, including Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Davis, have taken part in fossil-free protests. Yang’s endorsement ended the current sit-in.
“We hope that this will inspire students across the nation to show that our actions and students’ abilities to make a campaign are successful,” Argueta said. “We hope that this will instigate a nationwide movement toward sustainability and divestment of fossil fuels.”
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