Dear classmates, fellow students, and fellow organizers,
My name is Alyssa Lee and I graduated from UCLA in Spring 2014. During my college years ,I was involved in countless groups that served to represent UCLA. I was a dedicated member of the Solid Gold Sound Marching Band and played the UCLA Fight Song more times than I can reasonably count. I was an active sister of Tau Beta Sigma, the honorary band sorority that worked with Girl Scout troops in LA and promoted women in leadership. I was a grantwriter with the Mobile Clinic Project at UCLA and helped to raise over $19,500 for a free clinic that served the homeless in the Greater Los Angeles area. I was an active member of over nine campus organizations. I have cheered for our athletics teams through the heat and the rain. I know how to sing all of our many fight songs (and the harmonies!). If you needed to know where to go on campus to book a room, get some funding, hold an event, I was the person who you asked. I knew the ins and outs of campus and I was proud of it.
But looking back, the accomplishment I am most proud of is starting Fossil Free UCLA and representing our prestigious university in the international movement calling for climate justice. For two years, I worked to raise awareness and to build coalitions for divestment, and I graduated at a high point of this work. The University of California is waiting for the student campaign to subside as leaders and members like me graduate, but I am writing to tell you that I am in this movement for the long-haul.
I pledge to remain committed to the movement for fossil fuel divestment and continue to organize for climate justice far beyond college graduation. I am dedicated to building the power of our movement over the long-term. I will not graduate out of this movement.
In addition to continued organizing, I also pledge to withhold donations from UCLA and the University of California until they commit to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves.
As much as I loved my time as a student, it was not UCLA that created my student experience. It was the tireless effort of dedicated students, faithful faculty, and compassionate and passionate community members who I met along my journey that did that and that taught me my worth, my value, and my power. UCLA did not teach me the True Bruin values of excellence, integrity, accountability, respect, and service. It is the job of students like myself to find those values, the gap between the words and their application, and to hold the university accountable to them. Until UCLA fulfills its duty to students, to its research, and to the world at large and divests from fossil fuels, neither the university nor I have the right to call ourselves ‘True Bruins.’ UCLA and I, we are in this battle for justice together, and it is in the best interest of the university to respect alumni like myself who are committed to keeping them accountable.
I can’t stop and I won’t stop until I see divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment for a just transition from UCLA, from the UCs, and from higher education all over the world. I urge you to please join me and commit to protecting the future of generations to come.
With love and power,
University of California, Los Angeles