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Divest UA campaign to raise awareness about fossil fuels

Meghan Fernandez
Meghan Fernandez / The Daily Wildcat

The Divest UA campaign is kicking off its first event tonight to raise community awareness about the use of fossil fuels by the UA.

According to Katie Marascio, an environmental sciences senior and Divest UA campaign worker, the UA has invested money in the fossil fuel industry. Marascio said this money comes from an endowment fund, and a board of trustees determines where the money will go.

The main goal of the Divest UA campaign is to convince the UA administration to divest from fossil fuels.

“I feel like [the UA] has a commitment to do better than what we’re doing — to go bigger, to make a bigger impact and really make sure that we are part of the solution to climate change rather than part of the cause,” Marascio said.

The campaign started recruiting on the first day of classes of the fall semester. There are currently ten core members involved in the campaign, but the group is trying to expand at a meeting tonight.

“The people who we have connected with have been really into it,” Marascio said.

The meeting is at 8 p.m. today in the San Pedro room in the Student Union Memorial Center and is an effort to gather all of the campaign’s supporters and bring in new people to talk about Divest UA and why it’s important. Toward the end of the meeting, the audience will be split up into smaller discussion groups to talk about different strategies for the campaign.

Eric Traub, a Green Corps worker and full-time worker for the Divest UA campaign, said there are two goals for the kickoff event. Traub said the group hopes to inform students about the campaign and what divestment means and to also have more focused plans for the campaign.

“We’re expecting a lot of students to come blind to the whole idea,” Traub said.

Leading up to tonight’s campaign kick-off, Marascio, along with other campaign workers, have visited class lectures to inform students about Divest UA. Marascio said during these class visits, they pass out pledge cards and people can sign them as a way to support divestment. Marascio also said they have been campaigning outside of Canyon Coffee and other places in the SUMC.

Traub said after the kick-off event, the campaign group is planning to use involved students to further push the campaign. Traub said they plan to do this through visibility events, reaching out to alumni, faculty members and community members. The campaign will be evolving throughout the year, Traub said.

“I think what we really hope for is that they’re willing to listen,” Traub said. “We know that it’s going to be a long conversation about whether the university can divest, but we hope that they will weigh out the options.”

Divest UA is not a student organization associated with the UA, both Traub and Marascio said. It is an independent campaign effort, open to anyone in the community to join.

“If we are able to get [the] UA to divest, we will be the largest university to have done so,” said Kara Jensen, a microbiology senior who is also working on the Divest UA campaign.

—Follow Meghan Fernandez @MeghanFernandez

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