Dear Fellow Fossil Fuel Divestment Organizers,
My name is Jason Schwartz and I am a student at San Francisco State University. I am a fifth-year senior and will be graduating soon. I am also an organizer with Fossil Free SFSU and the Divestment Student Network, both part of the movement for climate justice. The fossil fuel industry and college administrators are waiting for student organizing to subside as we graduate, but I am writing to pledge my commitment to this movement for the long haul.
In the novel Perks of Being a Wallflower, the high school protagonist imagines himself in college. Speaking to his friends he jokes,
God, college is such a trial. My professor is making me read twenty-seven books this weekend, and my girlfriend needs me to paint signs for her protest rally Tuesday. Let those administrators know we mean business. Dad is busy with his golf swing, and Mom has her hands full with tennis. We must do this again. I would stay, but I have to pick my sister up from her emotional workshop. She's making real progress. Good to see ya.
The sandwiching of activism between homework and Dad’s golf swing is what the fossil fuel industry and college administrators want it to be, but that’s not what it is for me.
When I was six years old, my parents went through a brutal divorce and my world fell apart. In a vivid emotional memory, I looked to my mother to ask her what was going on. Her back to me, she turned her head and on her face I saw that she knew, but wouldn’t tell me. I was abandoned. Since then I have always felt isolated and alone, like I didn’t fit in anywhere. The world was a dark place and I had nobody to explain it to me.
Just two years ago, as a junior, my world was still very dark. I was addicted to drugs. A regular Friday night for me looked like getting blackout drunk and yelling at someone at a party about how everyone was doomed and there was nothing that we could do.
However, even though the place that I was in was very dark, a small part of me was always searching for truth. This part of me led me to take courses like Anthropology of Racism and American Indians and U.S. Laws for my general education requirements even though I was an audio production major and a graphic design major before that. Even though I was finishing the second semester of my junior year and had already spent a year taking classes to transfer into an impacted major, I knew that I had to change my life’s course yet again. I transferred to Environmental Studies and joined Fossil Free SFSU immediately after seeing a presentation at our majors’ meeting.
Organizing quickly consumed my life. I found myself working twenty or more hours a week for no pay, solely because I cared deeply about the work I was doing and was driven by an intense passion for truth and justice. Organizing became a way for me to cut through the dark fog that had consumed me since I was a child. It was a way for me to fight back and say, No! This is not okay! This is not the world that I want to live in!
Because of my experiences, 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 because injustice is not an investment. I will not graduate out of this movement.
In addition to continuing to organize, I also pledge to withhold donations from San Francisco State University until it commits to divest from direct investments and commingled fund holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves.
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?
San Francisco State University ‘15
Campus Organizer, Fossil Free SFSU
CA Network Organizer, Divestment Student Network