Fossil Free Mac planning sit-in

Hannah Catlin, News Editor

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Fossil Free Mac (FFM) is planning a sit-in in Weyerhaeuser Hall for Oct. 4 ahead of a potential board of trustees vote on the organization’s divestment proposal. FFM hopes that the sit-in will remind trustees how much divestment matters to students on campus.

“We’re hoping to get a good showing,” FFM core member Sasha Lewis-Norelle ’21 said of the planned sit-in. “Macalester students care about this. You can’t keep this decision hidden from us… we deserve to know your stance on divestment.”

Last April, in a referendum on student support for the divestment proposal, 96 percent of respondents — over a thousand Macalester students — voted in favor of the measure.

According to Lewis-Norelle, however, the board is not nearly as single-minded.

“The way we’ve had it described [to us], there’s around 25 percent of the board who’s against us — mainly the Investment Committee — and then 25 percent that’s for us: the activism trustees,” he said. “Then, there’s 50 percent in the middle that could go either way.”

One promising sign for FFM is the University of California (UC) system’s decision in mid-September to divest its $13.4 billion endowment fund and its $70 billion pension fund from fossil fuels by the end of the month.

In a Los Angeles Times column published last week, the UC system’s Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher wrote that “hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk.”

FFM hopes the trustees will heed Bachher’s warning.

“For a while, I was thinking it was kind of 60 – 40 against divestment,” Lewis-Norelle said. “But with the most recent development with the University of California, I’m thinking it’s more 50 –50.

“There’s a lot of nervousness, of course,” he continued. “Just trying to make sure we’ve done everything we can because at some point, it’s just going to be up to the board to decide.”

At an FFM teach-in held Tuesday in the Harmon Room of the DeWitt Wallace Library to educate students on their next steps, members stated that they would consider an “escalation” in their tactics should the trustees vote against divestment.

Members did not specify exactly what this escalation would consist of.

The Mac Weekly will have more reporting on this situation as it develops.

Rebecca Edwards contributed to the reporting of this article.