Umass Amherst Becomes First Major Public University to Divest Fossil Fuels

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By Brianna Crosby

 

Following a major campaign, and a string of nationally covered protests at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the school has announced that it will no longer invest in direct fossil fuel holdings.  UMass Amherst will be the first major public university to do so. The unanimous decision was made May 25th, after a series of developments brought it to the attention of the Umass Foundation, a nonprofit organization that invests hundreds of millions of dollars to the school each year.

Beginning in mid-April, a sit in was conducted at the administration building on campus. Here, students refused to go to class, or leave the building during closing time. On April 13th, administrators and the UMass Police Department had enough, and arrested the remaining 19 students still in the building after it’s closing time.

Students fought back, recruiting more individuals to join the fight, and returned the next day with more student power. The attention was grabbed by other universities, and others that were paying attention to the protests. Pizzas were delivered from all over the country, and public support was widespread.

Last year, the university voted to divest from all direct investments in the coal industry, with this push, students felt it was time to divest from all fossil fuels. The University is well-known, and prides itself on its usage of sustainable resources, and has always been open to new and intuitive ways to combat climate change and promote green energy.

Along with the divestment, the University agreed to invest $20 million in environmental science research, to further separate themselves from fossil fuels. This would also allow for additional research into more renewable resources that can be pooled together, along with the wind and solar power they already have, into running the school.

This is a huge step in the push to curb climate change. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is the second largest school in Massachusetts, hopefully there decision to divest in fossil fuels will push for schools in the area to do the same. Once the Boston area is hit, it leaves the potential for a domino effect to take place, making universities and colleges across the country take part in conserving the planet for future generations.

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