FFM triumphant in student referendum

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After an extensive campaign on social media and on campus, Fossil Free Mac (FFM) secured the support of the student body in an MCSG referendum calling for a moratorium on fossil fuel investments. A resounding 96 percent of respondents, or 1,009 students, voted in favor of the measure.

According to the terms of Fossil Free Mac’s proposal, Macalester would make no new private partnerships in the oil and gas industry and would reinvest the money in their current partnerships in other industries once those agreements lapse. These 18 partnerships currently amount to investments of $40 million.

The 1,009 students voting in favor of the referendum represent 48 percent of the student body, a notable uptick in voter participation over both the MCSG election on the same ballot, and previous student referendums.

FFM promoted the referendum heavily through their Facebook page and through measures like Facebook profile picture banners reading “I will vote YES for divestment.” Members also affixed signs with quotes from alum in support of divestment to the Mac Moment banners on campus light posts as a means of promotion and protest.

While the results of the referendum are not binding, FFM core members will be able to call on demonstrated support from students when presenting their proposal to the board of trustees in mid-May.

“The Board of Trustees has questioned whether Fossil Free Macalester has a broad base of student support,” FFM core member Hannah Shumway ’19 wrote in a press release. “The results of this referendum remove all doubt: Macalester students demand that the Board of Trustees end Macalester’s direct partnerships with the corrupt fossil fuel industry.”

Fellow FFM core member Becca Krasky ’19 emphasized the urgency of divestment and called on the board to make Macalester a leader in a growing movement of peer colleges divesting from fossil fuel partnerships.

“The climate crisis is already harming students in Minnesota and globally,” Krasky said. “This is Macalester’s chance to take action and set a meaningful precedent for liberal arts colleges and universities around the world. The Board shouldn’t waste this opportunity to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry.”

The board of trustees will convene on May 17 to vote on FFM’s proposal.