My name is Emily Williams and I am an alum of UCSB, Class of 2013. I am an organizer with the University of California, a part of the movement for fossil fuel divestment and climate justice. The fossil fuel industry and college administrators are waiting for student organizing to subside as we graduate, but I am writing her to pledge my commitment to organizing for the long haul.
I grew up on the story that the United States is the freest, most prosperous, and fairest nation in the world. I grew up on the promise of the American Dream. I have been spoon fed this fairy tale all my life, a fairy tale that aims to blind society to the realities of our current political economy. Yet when I scratched the surface of that fairy tale, it fell away, and what I saw was a society long forgotten by its government, in which few prosper and most pay. While the Declaration of Independence still stands, it has been long forgotten by those in power.
The Fossil Fuel Industry is the heart of much of this decay. It robs the poor, the old, the vulnerable, the young, and of future generations of their lives, liberties, and pursuit of happiness, all in the name of profit. This industry’s very business model relies on the unrelenting exploitation of people and resources, and actively undermines any attempt at a positive change. We can do one of two things—stand by and let the rot undermine all that is valued in life, or we can fight it.
I organize for fossil fuel divestment because, for the first time, I can actively fight for my future, the livelihoods of those around me, and for climate justice for all. I joined this movement as an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and 2 years after graduation, I am still a part of this movement. I recognize the power of my alma matter as an institution, and I recognize the important role it must play in leading this country to the just and swift transition to a low-carbon economy. By standing with the students, faculty, and staff of the University of California, and with my fellow alumni, we have the power to shift our investment practices to align with our values.
I pledge to remain committed to the movement for fossil fuel divestment and to organize for climate justice far beyond leaving college. I am dedicated to building the power of our movement over the long-term becauseinjustice is not an investment. I have not graduated out of this movement, and I will not abandon it.
I also pledge to withhold donations from the University of California until it commits to divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves and implements a reinvestment plan that promotes climate justice.
I take this commitment seriously, and I hope that you will also pledge to fight for the future of current students and of generations to come. Will you join me?
University of California, Santa Barbara, Class of 2013
Campaign Director, California Student Sustainability Coalition