Climate Action Movement and One University campaign release new statement following protests at Regents

Sunday, December 8, 2019 - 8:23pm

Protestors gathered outside the most recent regents meeting to protest the lack of climate action on campus.

Protestors gathered outside the most recent regents meeting to protest the lack of climate action on campus. Buy this photo
Keemya Esmael/Daily

Members of the Climate Action Movement and the One University Campaign released a joint statement Friday after staging a series of protests and blockading the exits of the University of Michigan Golf Course at Thursday’s Board of Regents Meeting. The statement reflects upon the decisions made at the meeting and condemns what 1U and CAM claim is inaction on the part of the University to divest from fossil fuels and equally distribute resources across the three campuses. 

Some of the two organizations’ principal demands to the University include extending the Go Blue Guarantee to the Flint and Dearborn campuses, committing to carbon neutrality by 2030 and freezing further fossil fuel investments. All of these demands were mentioned in the joint statement to the Board of Regents. 

“The shameful response from the Administration is symptomatic of a consistent lack of funding transparency, moral accountability, and commitment to productive dialogue with the student body,” the statement reads. “Members of the One University Campaign and the Climate Action Movement understand our demands require the Administration to undergo a deep examination of its priorities, and this process is not simple.”

On Nov. 25, CAM and 1U released their first joint statement announcing their list of demands and establishing a connection between the two organizations. The first statement also called on the University community to join 1U and CAM at the protests before, during and after the Dec. 5, regents meeting. No students were arrested during any of Thursday’s protests. 

In response to the organizations’ statements, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald commented, in an email to The Daily, on the administration's interaction with students.

“The university productively engages with the student body every day on a wide range of topics,” Fitzgerald wrote. 

At the regents meeting, the board voted against investing $50 million into Vendera Resources, a Dallas-based company known for its assets in oil and gas production.

Regents Mark Bernstein (D) and Paul Brown (D) also expressed support for the protesters arrested at the March 15 Climate Strike and called on the University to dismiss the charges against the students as soon as possible. 

“All of us, for our and the staff’s safety, should always comply with the directions of the public safety officers,” Brown said at the Dec. 5 regents meeting. “But in this circumstance, and as a policy, I oppose, and I believe this University should oppose the prosecution of U-M students who are arrested as part of a peaceful protest. I believe that to do otherwise is to abandon our duty to these students.”

LSA junior Solomon Medintz, an organizer in CAM who writes for The Daily’s opinion section, helped lead Thursday’s protests. Medintz said 1U and CAM were successful in getting the University to listen to their demands and were touched by the student support the organizations received. 

“It was a really amazing demonstration of the power that students have at this University,” Medintz said. “We’ve called for changes time and time again and have been brushed aside, not listened to, seen as a problem that can be avoided. And I think we demonstrated, and students around the University saw that the students who organize well actually make changes.”

Medintz said even though the organizations achieved some of these successes, they were still disheartened that most of the Regents did not respond to their questions during the public-comment section of the meeting. He also noted how the large security presence at the post-meeting protest posed a challenge to the organizations and reflected poorly on the University. 

“I think the most important takeaway is that the University is unbelievably concerned with its public image and is willing to go to pretty drastic lengths to maintain that even when it’s not meeting student demands,” Medintz said. “Even though they didn’t arrest students, there was still security force used against students, and I just want to highlight that.”