The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

SECS protests UI’s inaction to divest from fossil fuels

Protestors+march+through+the+Main+Quad+during+the+Students+for+Environmental+Change+climate+protest+on+Friday.
Thomas Cai
Protestors march through the Main Quad during the Students for Environmental Change climate protest on Friday.

This afternoon, Students for Environmental Concerns hosted a rally to protest the University’s inaction to completely divest from companies that profit from fossil fuels. 

Under the Illinois Climate Action Plan, the University plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier. According to Objective 9.1, the University also committed to fully divest from fossil fuel companies by fiscal year 2025. 

Trey McCallister, sophomore in FAA and student coordinator for SEC, said the University has not lived up to its promises.

“The administration has made zero progress so far,” McCallister said. “We’ve done a lot of organizing around this, such as our website TORIIS.earth, a transparent open resource for visualizing institutional investments.” 

According to TORIIS.earth, out of the University’s public corporate bonds holdings, $120 million dollars was invested in companies that “profit from the extraction, transportation, or combustion of coal, petroleum, or natural gas.”

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    Furthermore, the University of Illinois Foundation reported that 5% of their portfolio, about $110 million, was invested in fossil fuel companies.

    Robin Kaler, spokesperson for the University, said the University and the UI Foundation “do not directly own equity in any coal or oil companies, as almost all stocks are held through externally managed funds.”

    She added that the administration is currently evaluating the risk of eliminating exposure to certain fossil fuels. 

    SECS organized the protest to bring together the campus community and allow individuals to speak out. 

    “Strikes like this are very important because it gives people hope,” McCallister said. “We want to … give youth the platform to have their voices heard because we’re so suppressed by the administration.”

    The rally began at Alma Mater, and participants young and old walked around campus to bring attention to their cause. Many students held cardboard signs, with slogans such as “Planet over profit” and “No future with oil” written in bold letters. 

    McCallister noted that SEC also hopes to connect to other schools within the Illinois system. 

    “We’re trying to get schools involved at University of Illinois Chicago and Springfield, as this case pertains to them,” McCallister said. “We’re all in this together.”

    Sol Tsatsos, junior in ACES, said she attended the protest to do her part, citing the importance of environmental preservation. 

    “Climate is such an important thing,” Tsatsos said. “We only have one planet, and it’s so important to take care of it and try (to) mitigate the problems that we are causing ourselves. It’s one thing that I can do, so I’m going to try and be here for everyone and everything.”

     

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