UWEC Students Plan Bicycle-Based Protest to Encourage Sustainable Practices On Campus
UWEC students, faculty, and staff invited to walk or bike in an April 19 ‘Pedal to Divestment’ protest
A student-led, bicycle-based protest slated for Monday, April 19, aims to encourage the UW System to divest from the fossil fuel industry, invest in sustainable industry, and be more transparent about its investments, according to organizers.
“We want to put pressure on the UW System by making divestment an issue that every student, staff, and faculty member knows about and is talking about, so that they cannot continue to ignore and dismiss us and this issue,” said organizer Leah Woodward, a student at UW-Eau Claire. “We hope to show the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate that UWEC students care about this issue, and hopefully get them to pass the resolution on divestment, which will be introduced to them on the day of the event.”
The protest, called “Pedal to Divestment at UW-Eau Claire,” comes as collaboration among campuses across Wisconsin to support the UW System and Foundations divest from fossil fuels – or eliminate stocks, bonds, or investments in fossil fuels, which have been critiqued as unhealthy for the environment and an unsustainable energy source.
We want to see change on our campuses that show we care about the longevity of our planet.
CO-ORGANIZER OF PEDAL TO DIVESTMENT AT UW-EAU CLAIRE
“There is endless research about how fossil fuels contribute to global warming through the greenhouse effect,” said fellow organizer Hanna Dockter. “We as organizers were inspired to do this protest now because during Earth Week people are more conscious of our responsibility to care for the environment.”
The protest is hosted by the UW Divestment Coalition, a movement created and run by students of various UW System schools across the state who have been collaborating via Zoom and online group chats to mobilize and “demand a just divestment from fossil fuels to combat the climate crisis,” Woodward said. Their goals include asking for “transparency and disclosure of all UW investments, the cessation of all new investments in oil, gas, and coal companies, the sale of existing investments in oil, gas, and coal industries, and (re)investment in clean energy solutions.”
“We want to see change on our campuses that show we care about the longevity of our planet,” Dockter said.
Attendees – which include UWEC students, faculty, and staff, as campus is still closed to visitors – should bring a bike (unless they plan to walk), a helmet, safety gear, a face mask, water bottle, and a device that can access the Internet. Organizers encourage planning for the weather, including bringing a jacket, sunscreen, or rain gear – depending on the weather. The route for biking is a 4.5-mile loop, but if that’s too long or strenuous, there will be a shorter walking route available.
Attendees are invited to meet at Campus Mall at 4:30pm on Monday, April 19, to learn about divestment and make posters out of fabric to wear while biking or walking. The protest begins at 5pm and conclude at 6pm, when attendees can return to campus, lock up bikes, and enter the Davies Student Center to join the Student Senate meeting in an effort to show support as the divestment resolution is introduced and voted upon.
The resolution, “In Support Of Fossil Fuel Divestment in the UW System & Foundations,” aims to recognize fossil fuel’s direct impact on climate change and support fossil fuel divestment, is proposed by the Student Office of Sustainability Commission; Maddie Loeffler, UW Divestment Coalition Intern; and Lauren Becker, director of the Student Office of Sustainability.
“We hope that we can get UW-Eau Claire students, staff, and faculty and Eau Claire community members excited about and supportive of fossil fuel divestment,” Woodward said, “not just for our university system, but within our own city, businesses, and personal lives. We hope that the divestment resolution passes in our student senate… and, of course, we hope that people will come away from this event happy to have spent some time outside, supporting an important cause that affects all of us.”
The protest is in tandem with the Student Office of Sustainability’s annual “Earth Claire” events, beginning April 15, in an effort to celebrate Earth Day and Earth Week. Find our more information about upcoming sustainability-focused events at www.uwec.edu/sos.