Students in the Montclair State Environmental Club have taken it upon themselves to convince Montclair State University to divest from the six different fossil fuel companies it currently has corporate bonds for, including BP and ExxonMobil.
Matthew Kelly, the founder of the campaign, an active member of Montclair State Environmental Club and a senior studying Spanish at Montclair State said, “Climate change is an existential threat. A significant portion of our population will be displaced by climate change if we continue to let fossil fuels burn at the rate that we do.”
Kelly and members of the Environmental Club executive board met with Susan Cole last semester to discuss this issue, resulting in a plan to work with the Student Government Association (SGA) to create a poll where students can vote on whether or not they would like their school to divest.
“As far as the SGA’s role on helping them, if they do feel this is something that’s very important for the campus community, creating a poll to broadcast on HawkSync is an option,” said George Koutsouradis, vice president of the SGA, “And then from there, based off of the results of what the students are saying through the poll, we can try and have discussions based off those facts to possibly push it one way or another.”
According to Quinn Hajra, president of Montclair State Environmental Club and a sophomore studying sustainability, “Through several info-tables, we will be able to reach out to students and engage them on the importance divestment has on not only our campus, but the planet we inhabit.”
Last month, the Environmental Club held a screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary “Before the Flood” to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change and gain student support for divestment. The club is also working on an economic plan for new companies the school can invest in to better convince the administration that it would be beneficial to divest from fossil fuels.
“I feel like it’s a symbol and also part of the revolution we’re going to make, and it’s a good way for students to get involved early,” said Heather Francis, Environmental Club member and president of the Animal Rights Activists club on campus.
The club is looking into cases of schools that lead successful divestment campaigns for ideas on the best way to get Montclair State to divest. The campaign is likely to last at least another year. The club hopes to successfully convince the administration to not renew their bonds in fossil fuel companies when they expire and instead convince them to invest in renewable energy.