Students protest UNF investment in fossil fuel

Saphara Harrell

[nicevideo link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijwxQM8hA6A”]Students held a peaceful protest Feb. 27 in front of Alumni Hall to draw attention to the investments made by the UNF Foundation.

The protest was a part of Divest UNF’s initiative to ask UNF to be more socially responsible with their investments. Divest UNF is a part of the Go Fossil Free campaign.

The group protested on grounds that UNF’s investments do not meet its core values, one of which is responsibility to the natural environment.

Protesters held signs that said, “Why do our actions not meet our words?” and, “Are UNF’s six core values undermined by endowment investments?”

When Foundation board members walked by, protesters handed out papers that outlined their mission statement.

Inside the meeting, one board member told another who was calling in to the meeting, Carolyn Mathis, that a dozen students were protesting her investment decisions. Mathis laughed.

Divest UNF's protest was passive. They stood and gave information sheets to board members as they entered. Photo by Saphara Harrell
Divest UNF’s protest was passive. They stood and gave information sheets to board members as they entered.
Photo by Saphara Harrell

Divest UNF asked two things:

First, they ask the Foundation freeze new investment in fossil fuel companies.

Second, Divest UNF asks that they stop investing in companies involved with fossil fuels within the next five years.

Lizzie Wood, who organized the protest, said that their main goal is to educate. She said UNF could lead the state as a sustainable university.

“It not only makes sense as the moral and right thing to do, but it makes sense financially as well,” said Wood.

“One of our mottoes is positive energy, and we feel that it’s really important that we not use this negative below-ground fossil energy, but instead use this positive above-ground sunshine, wind, renewable cleaner energy,” said Wood.

In their mission statement they say they believe the protest will create positive energy, empowering students with a brighter future.

When the Spinnaker asked why Mathis laughed in the meeting, Assistant Director for Public Relations at UNF sent a statement from Mathis:

“During the UNF Foundation Board Executive Committee meeting held Thursday, Feb. 27, I was traveling and attended via conference call. As I mentioned during the call, it was very difficult to hear the conversation in the room. When someone directed a comment to me, I tried to respond in a way that acknowledged they had addressed me without asking them to repeat themselves, so as not to be disruptive to the meeting. I’ve served as a volunteer for a number of years at the University and fully embrace differing viewpoints on various issues.”

Email Saphara Harrell at [email protected]