University ignores students’ voices

It is said that change starts with one person, but that rarely seems to be the case.

This semester, students in a geography class are working toward change on campus.

Students in the Environmental Thought in Action course are currently trying to get a new advisory measure on the Associated Students spring election ballot. They want students to vote on the divestment of the university’s holdings in fossil fuel companies over the next four years.

The campus’ stance on sustainability is somewhat of an issue here. Chico State prides itself on being an environmentally friendly institution. Investing money in oil companies seems contrary to this stance.

If the initiative is approved A.S. would recommend that the university pull its investments from these companies.

Another issue to consider is the lack of transparency regarding the investment.
It is disconcerting that the university has so much invested in oil and that it is news to many in the community. This initiative is commendable and not just for bringing awareness to the issue. The problem, however, is that it is an advisory measure. Even if students do vote in favor of it, there is absolutely no guarantee anything will be done.

Consider the construction of the parking structure on Normal Street. That project was strongly opposed and the subject of its own advisory measure. After the initiative was endorsed and displeased student voices were heard, they were ultimately disregarded.

Based on the university’s track record with advisory measures, the outlook for this effort seems bleak.

This is an example of how weak the communication channel students have to the university administration is. Students’ voices should not be ignored simply becuase they don’t have an effective means of expression or representation.

Even if this advisory measure does not have its intended effect, it has other benefits. It raises awareness for the issue of financial sustainability and could very well result in A.S. divesting its own fossil fuel stocks.

A.S. has been urged by the Environmental Affairs Council to do so for the past six months and this measure could serve as a bellwether to encourage it.

Chico State’s commitment to sustainability is called into question because of its investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in oil companies. If being an environmentally friendly institution is important to Chico State and its students, this initiative needs to pass and be acted upon.

The university has made many strides to ensure this campus is environmentally responsible and needs to make financial decisions that are reflective of its values.

The money invested in fossil fuel companies needs to be withdrawn and put into more sustainable alternatives.