‘WSU must divest now!’ WSU students rally for Fossil Fuel Divestment

Students rally to protest climate change policies, WSU’s use of fossil fuels on Earth Day 2023



Members of the ESA during the rally, Saturday, April 22, 2023.

GREY KAMASZ, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s Environmental Sustainability Alliance hosted a climate rally for Fossil Fuel Divestment at Ruby Street Park Saturday to call for action from WSU leaders. 

ESA members gave speeches on climate change and encouraged WSU students to act. The rally began with an address from Gil Rezin, freshman computer science major and member of ESA.

“We are calling on President Schulz, the WSU Board of Regents and the WSU Foundation to divest our school’s endowment holdings from fossil fuel companies and invest them instead in renewable energy,” Rezin said. “It is morally wrong to financially support corporations harming our planet. We demand full divestment from the world’s largest 200 fossil fuel companies.”

Rezin said President Schulz, the Regents Board and the WSU Foundation have recently taken steps toward fossil fuel divestment. They have formed an Environmental Sustainability Taskforce to coordinate environmental efforts across all WSU campuses.

“We applaud this new measure; however, we know it will take our continued advocacy to keep the ball rolling and achieve full divestment promptly,” he said at the rally. “We are out here today to rally for divestment. Will you join us?”

Stevie Fawcett, junior microbiology and Spanish major, gave the following speech.

“We have come here to Ruby Street Park today on Earth Day 2023 because our earth is at a turning point,” Fawcett said. “Scientists are telling us it is now or never to stop the rising global temperatures. The effects of climate change will be disastrous unless we can keep [temperature] increases below two degrees Celsius. Join us in our fight to stop WSU investments in fossil fuels driving climate change.”

 Junior neuroscience major Ryan Culp gave the final speech, calling for student action.

“We, the students, can advocate for divestment and show how much we care about the environment,” Culp said. “We can affect economic change to stop climate change. It is our duty as the next generation and for the sake of many generations after us to stop the destruction of our future.”

The rally ended with a walk around the area near the park. Fawcett said that more than 50 universities, including University of Washington, are divesting from fossil fuels. A list of the universities can be found here.

ESA and the Fossil Fuel Divestment

ESA is a branch of ASWSU that focuses on environmental sustainability projects, like community gardens and recycling campaigns, Fawcett said.

Fawcett said ESA’s most extensive campaign is the Fossil Fuel Divestment, the opposite of fossil fuel investment. The campaign began in September 2021 and is in its second year.

“Many institutions, including Washington State University, invest their money in fossil fuel companies because, historically, that has been an excellent way to get returns,” he said. “We are advocating for them to pull their funds out of fossil fuel companies and instead invest in something better, like renewable energies or indigenous peoples in this land. There are many opportunities here to do something good.”

Fawcett said the campaign has been successful so far, as they have caught the attention of President Schulz and the Board of Regents. They also plan to speak with the Sustainability Taskforce. However, he said they need visibility and WSU students should sign their petition by attending ESA meetings, researching the subject or joining their campaign.

Students can get involved regardless of the amount of time they have. He said they could turn off the lights when they leave their houses. Students should attend ESA meetings in the fall if they have more time.

The next step in the campaign is representation on the Sustainability Taskforce. ESA plans to create goals and present them to the Board of Regents next year. Fawcett said he also wants to extend and make ESA’s partitions to get more support from students and factually.

Fawcett said people should care about this because climate change will return to them eventually. It is already hurting people around the world and is causing many disasters.

“In the United States, many communities are affected already by hurricanes, forest fires, all these things that are being exacerbated by climate change, and it’s only going to get worse,” he said.  

Students can sign the divestment online or contact ESA on their Instagram page. They also reach ESA at [email protected].

More information about the fossil fuel divestment and ESA can be found here.