Just weeks after 77% of UNC’s student body voted in favor of coal divestment, our Student Congress has voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting the university’s $2.1 billion endowment from the dirtiest, most carbon intensive coal mining and coal burning companies in the nation.
The 94th Student Congress of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as the elected legislative authority of the Student Government of the University, representing all of the 29,278 students of the student body expresses its support for UNC’s endowment divesting from coal companies.
The resolution passed on Tuesday night by a 24-6 vote, which in addition to the referendum will send a strong message to the administration and the Board of Trustees that divestment and the bigger picture of climate change are issues that students at UNC are deeply concerned about and issues that the university must take action on immediately.
The referendum on the student ballot was significant, and it is encouraging to know that such a large percentage of the student body is supportive of the divestment campaign. But the support from Student Congress that we have received is even more significant, as they represent all 29,278 students at UNC Chapel Hill.
Since the results of the election last month were announced, the administration has been unresponsive to our requests to present at the UNC Board of Trustees meeting from March 27th-28th. The Board has no excuse to continue to ignore this issue, and should allow the UNC Sierra Student Coalition to make an educational presentation to them at the meeting. We hope that the resolution that was passed will place even more pressure on the university to divest. But whether we are able to make a presentation or not, we will be at the Board meeting in numbers, and we extend the invitation to all of you to join us. Can you bring a friend?
In preparation for the March 4th Day of Action, UNC’s Sierra Student Coalition hosted an event in the pit with Carolina Barbell on February 28th. Many people came out to do Clean lifts for clean air and to help support our campaign! This attracted a lot of attention. Even Ramses came out to do some cleans for clean air! We are very appreciative of Carolina Barbell for being at this event with us and making it all possible.
Also, a shout out to some of our members who attended the Forward On Climate Rally in Washington DC on February 17th, and to those who attended the Power Up! Convergence at Swarthmore in Pennsylvania February 22nd to the 24th. You can read more about the UNC Sierra Student Coalition’s involvement at Power Up! here.
Right now the campaign is currently in a waiting stage. We are hoping to be able to make a presentation at the Board of Trustees meeting at the end of the month, and are calling on them to allow us to do so. In our press conference on Valentine’s Day, we called on administrators to respond to our referendum, and to allow us to speak at the meeting, but have received no response thus far. You can check out the Daily Tar Heel’s article here, & a copy of the News Release is posted below:
UNC-Chapel Hill students call on endowment to divest from coal companies
Leaders ask for trustees, administrators to take serious action
Students at UNC-Chapel Hill used a successful referendum vote supporting coal divestment to rally their classmates at the Old Well on Thursday afternoon. Campus leaders called on administrators and trustees to divest UNC’s $2.1 billion endowment from the coal industry and allow students to officially present their proposal at the next Board of Trustees meeting.
“Students want UNC to divest from coal, the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive fossil fuel on the planet,” said UNC sophomore Jasmine Ruddy. “We don’t want our educations to be subsidized by investing in an industry that we know is wrecking the climate for future generations.”
On Tuesday, 77 percent of UNC students voted in favor of coal divestment in student body elections, with more than 4,200 students voting for the endowment to dump its coal holdings.
“Research shows that we can divest from the worst coal mining and coal-fired utility companies over the next few years without any real impact on investment returns,” said UNC first-year Anurag Angara. “Coal is an increasingly vulnerable industry and a financially risky investment, so UNC has no real basis for defending why it should keep coal in its portfolio.”
Students are concerned about coal because of its overwhelmingly negative cradle-to-grave impact on public health, environmental quality, global climate change and the U.S. economy. This campaign is part of a national student movement at more than 250 college and university campuses calling on their endowments to remove investments in coal and other fossil fuel industries that are hurting the planet, polluting our politics and driving climate change.
Press Conference Speakers:
- Jasmine Ruddy, UNC Sierra Student Coalition coordinator
- Madhu Vulimiri, UNC Campus Y development director
- Zach Bijesse, UNC Campus Y cabinet member
- Alanna Davis, N.C. Student Power Union member
- Anurag Angara, UNC Sierra Student Coalition coordinator
If you want a more day to day update of our campaign you can like our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/UNCDivestCoal
And, make sure to sign our petition!
Today the UNC student body voted on a referendum attached to the ballot for student elections. An overwhelming 77% voted that they supported the UNC Sierra Student Coalition’s goal to get the university to divest their $2.1 billion endowment from the dirty coal industry.
This is similar to the referendum Harvard allowed their students to vote on, except at Harvard there was a 72% approval. This is a huge success for our campaign.
More to come on this topic later! We will be having a press conference addressing our success and what it means on Thursday, February 14th at 12:15 PM in front of the Old Well.
We voted YES!!!!! We’d like to thank the student body for supporting our campaign in such an influential way. This will hopefully grant our campaign the driving pressure we need in order to convince the administration of the need for divestment. The student body has spoken, will they listen?
Today we had two publications in the Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s campus newspaper. Both articles are located in the opinion section. The first is an Op-Ed by Media Coordinator Tara Nattress and Campus Y Co-President Jagir Patel. The article focuses on the rich history of UNC’s environmental campaigns, and how voting Yes to Divest on Feb. 12th will continue this tradition.
In order to vote you must log on to studentlife.unc.edu using your onyen any time from 8 AM to 8 PM next Tuesday.
The second publication is an LTE- “Attend teach-in on divestment” by Erin McAnulty of The Sierra Student Coalition, asking people to attend the teach-in at the Campus Y tomorrow at 6:30 in the Anne Queen Lounge. There will be FREE FOOD offered at this event, and a serving of information about our campaign.
Also, we have officially been endorsed by the UNC Young Democrats in an announcement that they made today via their email listserve.
Media hits abound!
Check it out! Campus Y Teach In. Attendance would be awesome! It will be a wonderful opportunity to learn what Beyond Coal is all about, and what measures we are taking on campus. Plus, there’s free food! What more could you ask for?! Come on out on February 6th at 6:30 pm in the Campus Y and get excited!
Want more info on the Campus Y’s support for this campaign? “Campus Y Campaign – Make UNC’s Investments Fossil Free”
LOTS of reasons UNC should divest from coal
The past few weeks have been extremely busy in the UNC Beyond Coal campaign, and in the best, most exciting ways! We’re making great strides.
Last week, a coal divestment referendum was approved by Student Congress to be voted on by the UNC student body in elections on Feb. 12. This referendum will allow students to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether or not they support our university divesting from coal. It will not hold the University accountable for the students’ decision, but it will raise the visibility of the issue and hopefully push them to divest from coal in the near future.
Just as exciting: we gained the endorsement of the Campus Y! As the biggest social justice organization on campus, the Campus Y took us on as one of their “Y Campaigns” for this semester. Our referendum campaign was also endorsed by UNC Young Democrats and two student body president candidates. Hopefully with so many big, influential and trusted organizations supporting us in our effort for environmental justice on our campus, we will eventually win this broader effort to bring sustainability to UNC’s endowment.
An article was also featured in The Daily Tar Heel online today about the referendum, our campaign, and our new supporters! We are very grateful to have such positive and supportive media attention drawn to us on campus. The article, written by the DTH’s Hunter Toro, says:
Anti-coal campaign makes headway
“The referendum, which will be on the Feb. 12 ballot, will gauge student opinion on endowment investment in coal in an effort to encourage administrative response to the subject.
“We wanted to do something that would give us more traction with the administrators,” said sophomore Jasmine Ruddy, the grassroots organizer for Beyond Coal. “That’s why we are using the referendum.”
Beyond Coal’s goal is to receive support for coal divestment — stopping the use of endowment funds for investing in coal-using companies. They are hoping for support from at least 50 percent of the student body with the referendum.”
“The University has an estimated $2.2 billion endowment to use at its discretion. As much as $100 million of that could be invested in the coal industry, Ruddy said.”
We would like to thank the DTH for their article, and their help in getting out the info about this referendum. If you want more information on the referendum, and how to vote on it (hopefully as a YES!) then check out our Facebook event, and say that you’ll Vote YES To Divest on February 12th!
Check out the SCR-94-162 Coal Divestment Referendum that was passed at UNC.
Section 1. The Board of Elections is hereby directed to place the following referendum on the 2013 Spring General Election ballot, presented exactly as follows:
“UNC-Chapel Hill has an endowment valued at $2.1 billion, which provides funding for University services such as scholarships and professorships. Currently, the UNC endowment includes investments in natural resources and energy, including coal.
UNC’s Sierra Student Coalition has been leading an effort on campus to divest UNC’s endowment from 15 major coal mining and coal-fired utility companies. More than 190 student-led groups at college campuses across the country are pushing their school’s endowments to divest from coal and other fossil fuel industries at this time.
Do you support UNC’s endowment removing its investments in coal over the next 5 years?”
The Board of Elections shall provide the options of “Yes” or “No” in response to the question on the ballot.”