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Students get vocal: protest wakes up West

Written by: Will Lewis

The Students Against Violating the Environment brought divestment to President William McKinney’s attention in their most direct way yet. A protest Wednesday involving both students and faculty took place just outside of Dr. McKinney’s door in West Hall.

“We need President McKinney’s support if we want them to take this issue seriously,” Danielle Jordan, president of S.A.V.E., said. “He does represent our campus, and our campus has spoken in favor of this.”

Jordan is speaking of the March 4 decision by the SGA to support divestment.

“The money will be going to, if I’m correct, long-term investments toward more green-fuel projects,” Senator Matt Cowan said in a March 6 Spectator article. “In the long-term end of it, it would actually increase profit.”

SGA’s support followed the faculty senate’s November 2013 decision to support divestment.

Jordan said visibility was the motivation behind the 9 a.m. protest.

“We just wanted to send a message to Dr. McKinney that we are still on top of this issue; it is still urgent, and it still needs to be addressed,” Jordan said. “We want him to take a stand on the issue and come out in favor of divestment.”

S.A.V.E.’s continued pursuit of fossil-fuel divestment has succeeded in bringing the issue to Dr. McKinney’s attention.

“What the divestment movement and S.A.V.E. on this campus has done is raise awareness,” Dr. McKinney said. “What they have done is focus attention on fossil fuel use; they have focused attention on sustainability.”

There still isn’t enough information on divestment yet for the University president to place himself behind the campaign, Dr. McKinney said. But that doesn’t mean the campaign is unsuccessful 

Dr. McKinney has proposed the establishment of a new committee researching possible strategies for reducing VSU’s environmental footprint.

“I’m asking this group to examine many strategies,” Dr. McKinney said. “Everything from alternative fuels to recycling−we don’t do a good enough job just recycling on this campus−and then including, but not limited to, divestment.

“I want everything on the table, and I want a thorough study done of this in order to make a responsible decision. 

However, Jordan feels that enough information has already been given for the University to stand in opposition to the use of fossil fuels.

“Dr. McKinney has agreed to establish a committee that will research divestment, but we also feel like we’ve provided a lot of information already and that the issue kind of speaks for itself in a lot of ways,” Jordan said.

“Now, it’s an issue of ethics and morality. So, the way we see it, divestment is the right thing to do because it is contradictory that our university is investing in something so damaging.”

Once established, the committee will include members from both S.A.V.E. and the SGA. Dr. McKinney said that the committee should have a study prepared one year after the first meeting.


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