The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Community members demand greater sustainability efforts in UR investments

<p>Senior Mckenna Dunbar addresses the crowd at the climate strike on Sept. 23.&nbsp;</p>

Senior Mckenna Dunbar addresses the crowd at the climate strike on Sept. 23. 

About 65 community members gathered for a climate strike on Sept. 23. The protesters called for the University of Richmond and the federal government to take action against climate change.

The strike happened in front of Boatwright Memorial Library and included students, faculty and staff from UR and Virginia Commonwealth University. The demonstration was organized by GreenUR, a sustainability club. 

Students and faculty stood on the grass in front of the library, wielding signs with slogans such as, “You can’t drink oil,” and, “I'm sure the dinosaurs thought they had time too.” 

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Costume of rich man eating an Earth ice cream cone at the climate strike on Sept. 23.

That was the first of many protests that will happen every Friday as a part of the global climate strike planned by Fridays for Future, a student-led organization founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg. The protest on Sept. 23 was the first campus climate change strike of this magnitude, senior Mason Manley said. Manley, who is the co-president of GreenUR and was the head organizer, called it a historic moment. 

Among the numerous demands from Fridays for Future and GreenUR were that President Joe Biden declare a climate emergency, that Biden and the U.S. Congress not commit to any more fossil fuel projects and that UR invest its endowment and pension funds in a sustainable fashion.

Senior Mckenna Dunbar helped plan the strike and said she and other activists talked to UR President Kevin Hallock over the summer about sustainability on campus. Dunbar hopes these protests will cause UR to address the demands that they discussed, specifically removing UR investments from fossil fuels.

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Seniors McKenna Dunbar and Mason Manley helped organize the climate strike on Sept. 23.

Protestors also chanted, “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” and, “One, we are the people! Two, we are united! Three, we will not let you kill our planet!”

Senior Dominique Pham also said the climate strike meant more than just performative activism, which can be common.

“Especially for this campus, which historically has not been very environmentally conscious,” she said.

Mary Finley-Brook, professor of geography and the environment, led the talk with Dunbar last summer with President Hallock.

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“We have to talk,” she said. “We can't pretend [climate change] isn't happening, and most of our classes do that, and that’s what we really talked to president Hallock about — there is not enough discussion, there is not enough education.” 

UR has a long way to go, she said.

“I called our campus environmentally illiterate,” Finley-Book said. “I called our administration, our faculty, staff and students environmentally illiterate. And not because I want to be throwing labels around, but because we don't know the basics.”

GreenUR was happy with the turnout. 

“it's only gonna get bigger and better,” Dunbar said.

Contact news writer Andrea Padilla at  andrea.padilla@richmond.edu. News writer Ananya Chetia contributed to reporting.

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