In recent weeks, college students on dozens of campuses have demanded that university endowment funds rid themselves of coal, oil and gas stocks. The students see it as a tactic that could force climate change, barely discussed in the presidential campaign, back onto the national political agenda.
“We’ve reached this point of intense urgency that we need to act on climate change now, but the situation is bleaker than it’s ever been from a political perspective,” said William Lawrence, a Swarthmore senior from East Lansing, Mich.
Several organizations have been working on some version of a divestment campaign, initially focusing on coal, for more than a year. But the recent escalation has largely been the handiwork of a grass-roots organization, 350.org, that focuses on climate change, and its leader, Bill McKibben, a writer turned advocate. The group’s name is a reference to what some scientists see as a maximum safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. The level is now about 390, an increase of 41 percent since before the Industrial Revolution.
Mr. McKibben is touring the country by bus, speaking at sold-out halls and urging students to begin local divestment initiatives focusing on 200 energy companies. Many of the students attending said they were inspired to do so by an article he wrote over the summer in Rolling Stone magazine, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.”
Speaking recently to an audience at the University of Vermont, Mr. McKibben painted the fossil fuel industry as an enemy that must be defeated, arguing that it had used money and political influence to block climate action in Washington. “This is no different than the tobacco industry — for years, they lied about the dangers of their industry,” Mr. McKibben said.
In an interview, Mr. McKibben said he recognized that a rapid transition away from fossil fuels would be exceedingly difficult. But he said strong government policies to limit emissions were long overdue, and were being blocked in part by the political power of the incumbent industry.
Mr. McKibben’s goal is to make owning the stocks of these companies disreputable, in the way that owning tobacco stocks has become disreputable in many quarters. Many colleges will not buy them, for instance.
Mr. McKibben has laid out a series of demands that would get the fuel companies off 350.org’s blacklist. He wants them to stop exploring for new fossil fuels, given that they have already booked reserves about five times as large as scientists say society can afford to burn. He wants them to stop lobbying against emission policies in Washington. And he wants them to help devise a transition plan that will leave most of their reserves in the ground while encouraging lower-carbon energy sources.
“They need more incentive to make the transition that they must know they need to make, from fossil fuel companies to energy companies,” Mr. McKibben said.
Most college administrations, at the urging of their students, have been taking global warming seriously for years, spending money on steps like cutting energy consumption and installing solar panels.
The divestment demand is so new that most administrators are just beginning to grapple with it. Several of them, in interviews, said that even though they tended to agree with students on the seriousness of the problem, they feared divisive boardroom debates on divestment.
That was certainly the case in the 1980s, when the South African divestment campaign caused bitter arguments across the nation.
The issue then was whether divestment, potentially costly, would have much real effect on companies doing business in South Africa. Even today, historians differ on whether it did. But the campaign required prominent people to grapple with the morality of apartheid, altering the politics of the issue. Economic pressure from many countries ultimately helped to force the whites-only South African government to the bargaining table.
Mr. Lawrence, the Swarthmore senior, said that many of today’s students found that campaign inspirational because it “transformed what was seemingly an intractable problem.”
I admire these students, but with there already being so much heat on tuition costs, I doubt they will be successful in getting universities to remove petroleum companies from their portfolios. I doubt many could really afford to do so. That said, I am in favor of the action and hope that it takes off all over the country - because students speaking out in union has power beyond the university walls. And apparently, our leaders need to see and hear more of that.
Students Gotta Vote - OFA Pennsylvania
More than ever before—it’s important for students to vote in this election. President Obama has doubled funding for Pell Grants and established a college tax credit. Mitt Romney’s plan would eliminate the President’s tax credit and cut Pell Grants for nearly 9.6 million students.
Click here to get all the information you need to vote: http://OFA.BO/vZy3Mt
OUT-OF-STATE STUDENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, COURT RULES | A New Hampshire judge held Monday that out-of-state students have a right to vote in the state, rejecting a new requirement that voters sign a statement declaring New Hampshire their domicile and subjecting them to laws that require them to register their vehicles in the state and obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license within 60 days of becoming residents. Judge John Lewis ordered that this paragraph be deleted from voter registration forms, saying it “presents an inaccurate expression of the law and has a clear harmful effect on the exercise of voting rights and education connected therewith.” The law implementing this requirement passed in June with strong Republican support, and over the veto of Gov. John Lynch. Last March, the leader of the State House, Bill O’Brien, said he supported such a law to stop students from “basically doing what I did when I was a kid: voting as a liberal.”
from Think Progress Justice
The Romney campaign was so desperate to get students to attend an on campus rally at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa that they were giving away a foam Mitt or ball to the first 1,000 attendees.
Judging by who the campaign picked to be in the crowd shot behind Romney, their giveaway didn’t work.
Ironically during his speech Romney accused Obama of offering college students, “lots of free stuff” in order to vote for him, when at the very same event he had to offer students free stuff just to try to get them to attend. By the way, the free stuff that Romney was complaining about includes things like Pell Grants, Work Study, and access to student loans.
In Tennessee, a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls explicitly excludes student IDs.
In Wisconsin, college students are newly disallowed from using university-provided housing lists or corroboration from other students to verify their residence.
Florida’s reduction in early voting days is expected to reduce the number of young and first-time voters there.
And Pennsylvania’s voter identification bill, still on the books for now, disallows many student IDs and non-Pennsylvania driver’s licenses, which means out-of-state students may be turned away at the polls.
In 2008, youth voter turnout was higher that it had been since Vietnam, and overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This time around, the GOP isn’t counting solely on disillusionment to keep the student vote down.
In the last two years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed dozens of bills that erect new barriers to voting, all targeting Democratic-leaning groups, many specifically aimed at students. The GOP’s stated rationale is to fight voter fraud. But voter fraud — and especially in-person fraud which many of these measures address — is essentially nonexistent.
None of the new laws blocks student voting outright — although in New Hampshire, Republican lawmakers almost passed a bill that would have banned out-of-state students from casting a ballot. (The leader of the State House, Bill O’Brien, was caught on tape explaining how the move was necessary to stop students from “basically doing what I did when I was a kid: voting as a liberal.”)
And in some states, education officials are trying to limit the damage. In Pennsylvania, for instance, many universities are either reissuing IDs or printing expiration stickers to make current cards valid, according to a survey by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group.
But every additional barrier makes a difference to students, said Maxwell Love, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “It’s the little things that make voting harder that are going to affect apathetic students … This is like literally slamming the door on youth engagement.”
Pennsylvania is a swing state; it’s also the state with the most out-of-state students in the country.
Out-of-state students are particularly vulnerable, Kaiser-Jones said, because they otherwise have no need to get in-state ID.
“You can do anything else in Pennsylvania with a driver’s license from another state,” he said, “except vote.”
You can register to vote the easy way: Just follow the simple steps
- Check the box “I am a college student”
- Fill out your registration form
- Print it out
- Drop it in the mail
Once you have registered get your voter checklist at gottavote.org
Pass on this website to anyone you know who has moved for college or to remind them to register to vote!
Weeks after the Gay Marriage Clustercluck of 2012 has died down, Chick-fil-A has apparently entered talks with college campuses to minimize opposition by students towards Chick-fil-A franchises located in dining halls and on campus.
Chick CEO Dan Cathy “welcomed campus leaders to a private luncheon in Atlanta on Thursday to discuss diversity, hospitality and the opportunity to find common ground,” according to the Huffington Post.
However, college students were protesting Chick even before Cathy’s incendiary statements against gay marriage caused a media firestorm, which lead to protesters to stage a same-sex kiss-in against Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. An NYU student began a petition to have Chick-fil-A removed from its campus in February based solely on the chain’s donations to anti-gay groups.
More recently, Duke University has announced that, as part of a campus dining overhaul, they won’t be renewing their contract with Chick-fil-A, although the reason hasn’t been explicitly linked with Cathy’s comments.
Text STUDENTS to 62262 for updates on how you can stay involved with the campaign
Text GIVE to 62262 to donate $10 (Charged to your phone statement)
Holy shit - no. I am very dependent on Pell Grant, and I am NOT going to let someone take that away from me.
arial view of Montreal demonstration now…(via Instagram)
The 100th day of Quebec’s student strikes.
Just started: A livestream of the HBCU Obama Student Summit in Durham, NC with Jim Messina, Valerie Jarrett, and Gabrielle Union. These people lined up outside the venue ahead of time to get in, but you can join the internet party now with no waiting.
To which Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke said Thursday morning, “When we hear conservative Catholic organizations ask what we expected when we enrolled at a Catholic school, we can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to have their medical needs met. When students found out that the [Obama] administration was going to help us in this way, there was an environment of jubilation, just celebration. … People who haven’t gone to these schools don’t realize it, but on the campuses, people are talking about it, they’re excited about it, and they vote.”
Callie Otto attends Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where condoms are banned on campus. “I’m paying $50,000 a year to go to college,” she said. “I think that I should be able to get birth control with that $50,000.”