Students create ‘human oil spill’

Human Oil Spill 4
Students from the “Environmental Thought and Action” class create a “human oil spill” and march to the front of Kendall Hall on April Fool’s Day to protest Chico State’s investment in fossil fuels . Photo credit: Emily Teague

Anyone wandering near Kendall Hall around 4 p.m. might’ve seen a group of students wearing black tarps and one young lady wearing a white painter’s outfit with a gas mask over her face.

That was Mark Stemen’s Environmental Thought and Action class—in action.

They gathered in front of Kendall Hall to create a human oil spill, a form of activism against fossil fuels where individuals lie on the ground wearing black tarps.

The class hopes to state how important divestment is for the campus. It’ll be on the April Associated Students ballot. If voted on, the ballot measure will prompt the Associated Students to ask the university to divest its stock funds from fossil fuel companies.

This is a symbol for the actual oil spills that happen throughout the United States—the most famous being the BP oil spill four years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. The most recent was BP’s spill in Lake Michigan last week.

“It’s important because we’re just pretending to have an oil spill, and they actually happen,” said Meagan Dallas, a student in the class who participated in the act. ” Our ‘sustainable’ campus is profiting off of real oil spills and oil profiteering.”

Olivia Longstaff volunteered to wear the white costume symbolizing the clean up required after an actual oil spill, she said.

“We think and we know that our school can do better, and we are trying to hold them to a higher standard in the way they hold us to higher standards,” said Jennifer Nixon, another student in the class.

Yessenia Funes can be reached at [email protected] or @yessfun on Twitter.