Divest NU celebrates Global Divestment Day

    Weinberg sophomore Christina Cilento tells students about divesting from coal companies as they sign a petition. Photo by Rosalie Chan / North by Northwestern

    Divest NU celebrated Global Divestment Day on Friday, hoping to raise awareness across campus on the issue of coal-powered energy. 

    “There are schools all over the country and the world who are doing what we are doing today…spreading awareness of what [divesting] is all about, and garnering support from the student body,” said Noah Becker, a treasurer and event coordinator for Divest NU. 

    Not to be confused with NU Divest, Divest NU is a movement on campus that seeks to stop Northwestern from investing in coal, an energy source that influences global climate change. Members of Divest NU manned booths throughout the day, encouraging students and faculty to sign a letter to the board of trustees, write their name on a petition for ASG’s consideration and wear a symbol of the movement: a bright orange felt square. 

    Weinberg freshman Margot Zuckerman said she appreciates the effort to raise awareness about the factors that can affect climate change. 

    “As an Environmental Science major, there are a lot of reasons why I’m interested in climate change. I think it’s one of the most important problems facing our world today and it’s something that needs to be solved immediately,” she said. 

    Zuckerman participated in Divest NU’s “Burning Love, not Burning Coal” march Friday afternoon. Led by Divest NU’s Council, a group of students carried large banners and chanted slogans to publicize Global Divestment Day. Starting off at the Norris University Center, the students traveled up and down Sheridan Road, handing out fliers and orange squares to onlookers. 

    Despite the cold weather, sophomore Natalie Ward, said she enjoyed the march. Ward is the communications director for Divest NU.

    “My proudest moment today was the march,” Ward said. “There wasn’t that much of a showing, but there were more people than I was expecting with the weather.”

    Divest NU ended Global Divestment Day with a mock-trial in Swift Hall. Scott Brown, the president of the movement, served as a lawyer for the plaintiff as students from areas affected by global climate change testified against the defendant, a pile of stones signifying coal. 

    Miranda Cawley, a Medill junior, noted that the burning of fossil fuels like coal increases the effects of climate change, leading to high ocean levels and powerful hurricanes. Cawley experienced such disaster when her home in Long Island, N.Y. was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

    “Coal is one of the dirtiest forms of fuel and I hold it responsible for the damage done to my home and my family,” Cawley said.

    Hayley Landman, a sophomore in Weinberg described the process of mountaintop removal in West Virginia, while SESP student Zane Waxman explained coal’s role in the drought and storms expected to hit his hometown, Phoenix, Ariz.

    McCormick sophomore Yue Zeng concluded the testimonies, speaking about the high amount of air pollution in Beijing, China, resulting in smog. 

    “Blue sky is a luxurious thing to see,” she said. 

    After hearing all the evidence, Becker, acting in the role of judge, convicted coal of crimes against the environment and against humanity. 

    About 30 people attended the mock trial, slightly less than what Divest NU members had anticipated, but Becker said that the group remains determined to dissuade Northwestern from investing in coal. 

    “We’re not going to go away," Becker said. "This issue is really important to us and we’re not going to be pushed out of dialogue.”


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