Sustainability rally urges SU to invest in renewable energy, divest from fossil fuels

Students of Sustainability and Divest SU and ESF hosted the rally Tuesday on the Quad.

“Divest! Divest! Put fossil fuel to rest!” 

With this shout, Student of Sustainability member Ben Kuebrich started the “Rally for a Fossil Free SU” on the Quad Tuesday at 3 p.m. The rally was organized by Divest SU and ESF, a group of students encouraging SU to invest in renewable energy and divest from its fossil fuel endowment. Divestment, according to the Fossil Free website, means to eliminate investment in unethical and morally ambiguous issues.

Photo: Yuqing Shi
This sign served as the rally's backdrop and slogan.

The rally was co-hosted by Students of Sustainability, which has held events to inform, educate and inspire students about climate change, environmental issues and sustainability since it organized in 2012.

Kristen Koniuch, member of Students of Sustainability’ public relations committee, said poor rural areas in the global south were first hit by climate change, resulting in extreme weather. She said she thought this is a social injustice because these areas contributed least to global environmental changes.

Whether we choose to accept the social injustice or to make change can make a big difference, said Koniuch, an undeclared freshman on the pre-law track. “It will determine whether or not we will rise to our historical moment, and this is our historical moment. It all begins with the choice, and today we can choose to divest as SU,” she said to the crowd.

Colton Jones, co-president of Students of Sustainability, called on those at the rally to unite in collective action for a sustainable environment. The psychology senior said that Students of Sustainability calls for a better tomorrow. “We are the generation that does not give up, and we need to spread this,” Jones said, referring to the sustainability movement. “Repeat with me, ‘The people, united, we will never be defeated!’”

The rally attendees cheered and applauded. Together with Jones, they repeated his mantra.

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor of New York state, also attended the rally. Hawkins said he would divest the whole economy from fossil fuel if elected governor. “It’s economically and technically possible to go 100 percent clean energy in New York state in 15 years,” Hawkins said. He also mentioned that clean energy would create many new jobs and new manufacturing.

To end the rally, Jones called for another crowd interaction. He and the rally attendees shouted out: “I believe that we will win!”

Steve Rwayitare, an economics senior, said the Rally for Fossil Free SU was beyond his expectation. “The biggest effort now is to get people to actually take notice of the work that has been done,” Rwayitare said. “I’m prepared to be part of that work.”

Miles Marcotte, a geography junior, said it was a great feeling to see so many people engage with the rally trying to make SU fossil free.  “I feel very inspired, hopeful and empowered for the future,” he said. 

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