Raising the importance of a united student body taking a stand against climate change, the Associated Students of Madison passed a resolution to support a fossil fuel divestment plan Wednesday.
Student members of the Fossil Fuel UW Coalition gave a presentation of their plan for divestment at the University of Wisconsin. The Divestment Resolution plan was passed with a vote of 18-6-2.
Teresa Arrate, Miranda Meyer-Zibolski, Kaja Rebane and Joe Evica, members of the coalition, said the goal is for the student body to come together to take a stand on climate change.
The Fossil Free UW Coalition is group of registered student organizations that are environment-focused and that discuss and support the divestment of fossil fuels. The organizations involved in the coalition include Student Labor Action Coalition and Teaching Assistants’ Association, ASM spokesperson Grace Bolt said.
Throughout their presentation, members said this was a moral concern and this divestment plan would protect future generations. Rebane said the Fossil Fuel Divestment Plan starts with “letting the air out of the carbon bubble.”
Divestment is not primarily an economic strategy, but a moral and political one as well, Rebane said.
More than 380 divestment campaigns are on campuses worldwide, and nine different universities have campaigns as well as 23 cities and 23 religious institutions, Arrate said.
The 350 Madison Climate Action Team designed a petition that encouraged members of the student body and the faculty to take a stand on the plan for divestment, Arrate said. They said more than 90 members of the UW faculty co-signed as well as more than 1,400 UW students.
Divestment groups have also started at other UW-System schools such as UW-La Crosse, UW-Steven’s Point, UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls, the presenters said.
ASM Rep. Chris Hoffman spoke in support of the divestment plan.
“Climate change is an issue, and as an academic student body we need to make a change,” Hoffman said.
Other ASM members raised concerns over the plan and different perspectives and viewpoints surrounding the politics of this resolution were debated.
Rep. Jamie Wheeler said some of the information on the fossil fuel presentation was contradictory with information from the UW Foundation. Divestment is not a concrete thing, and it does not solve the problem of energy consumption, she said.
Rep. Pierre Schmidt said sending a message was not enough.
“Let’s do something else. Let’s do something new. It is simply not enough to say, ‘We are going to send a message.’ We need a new plan, a Wisconsin plan,” Schmidt said. “We need something new and brave, not something based on the studies of others.”
Hoffman said divestment is a moral choice and it is important to think of our future generations.
During the meeting, ASM also approved the Transportation Budget and heard a presentation about proposed General Student Services Fund eligibility criteria recommendations from Student Services Finance Committee.