FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2016
Fossil Free UC Berkeley sit-in UC investments office
As part of national wave of direct action, UC students call for full fossil fuel divestment
Berkeley, CA — This Wednesday morning, the members of UC Berkeley’s fossil fuel divestment campaign, Fossil Free Cal, left campus for Oakland where they began a sit-in at the UC’s office of investments. Student campaigners are calling on UC Committee on Investments Chair, Regent Richard Sherman, to commit to full divestment and take real climate action.
The sit-in comes after last month’s “Elect Richard Sherman Divestment Leader” campaign during campus elections. Students voted to elect him climate leader for the university but Regent Sherman failed to respond to the news. Last week, Berkeley students sent out a message on social media saying, “If Sherman does not take bold action on this crucial issue, then we will,” in anticipation of today’s action.
Claire Morrison, a student organizer with Fossil Free Cal, said, “It is unconscionable for our university to invest in the very companies that are recklessly endangering our future. We are demanding Regent Sherman lead with us and commit to fully divesting from fossil fuels.”
Actions at other UC campuses are expected to follow the sit-in of the investments office.
“After years of seeing every institutional avenue of engagement fail to produce results that match the urgency of the climate crisis, students decided that we must take bold action and demand that our university invest in our future,” student environmental leader Wes Adrianson says.
The sit-in comes during a wave of direct action around the county within the on-campus fossil fuel divestment movement this spring. In the last few weeks, protests have resulted in 62 student arrests, illustrating that administrators would rather arrest their students than engage seriously on divestment. In the face of student action, other universities have committed to vote or take steps towards divestment, including Yale University, University of Mary Washington, San Francisco State University, and University of Massachusetts.
In September 2015, the UC announced that it had divested $200 million from direct holdings in coal and tar sands companies after enormous student pressure. Arguing this is was only an important first step, Tyler Jacobson, also part of the sit-in, said, “Throughout California and across the country, low-income communities and communities of color are being ravaged by the impacts of pollution from fracking and oil extraction while our future is being undermined by its investment policy. The time for the UC to divest from such injustice is long overdue. If the UC is serious about keeping fossil fuels in the ground, Regent Sherman must take action and divest now.”