Protest held demanding NMU divest from fossil fuel industry

DIVEST+-+NMU+students+gather+around+the+wildcat+statue+during+the+protest+against+fossil+fuels.

Dallas Wiertella/NW

DIVEST – NMU students gather around the wildcat statue during the protest against fossil fuels.

Ryley Wilcox

Divest NMU is hosting a protest on Friday, Dec. 2 demanding that NMU divest from the fossil fuel industry.

The Protest to Divest at NMU will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Wildcat Statue and is open to all community members in Marquette. According to their Instagram, @divest_nmu, the student organization is hosting the protest “asking that NMU halts all future investments in the fossil fuel industry,” and asking students, staff, faculty and the community to join in their demand for “urgent climate action from NMU.” 

This protest is the second one hosted by Divest NMU this year. Last semester the student organization banded together during Earth Week on campus to host a similar protest, the Climate Action March, on Earth Day.

Divest NMU put on protests like the Climate Action March in April and the Protest to Divest in order to engage community members, Mackenzie Geary, Divest NMU member said.

“By having an in-person event like this, it creates a statement showing that we do really care and want others to see that fossil fuel divestment is important,” Geary said.

According to Fossil Free, a project of 350.org, which is a climate crisis-focused non-profit organization in the United States, divestment is the act of removing “stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical and morally ambiguous.” The organization states that investments in the fossil fuel industry are a “risk for both investors and the planet.” Organizations supporting divestment intend to encourage and call on institutions to divest their funds from the fossil fuel industry.

The University of Michigan was the first public university to adopt a divestment pledge in March of 2021. U of M stated that it would divest its endowment from fossil fuels in order to work toward a net zero carbon footprint, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Also in March of 2021, Divest NMU began developing their proposal for NMU to pull all of the university’s investments in the fossil fuel industry by 2028, with at least 50% of their investments being pulled by 2025. 15% of these divested funds would be reinvested into low carbon and green funds according to the proposal. 

This semester, the student organization has been able to keep the conversation alive on campus regarding their goal of divestment at NMU, Geary said.

“We have been meeting with multiple higher-ups within the university and the local Marquette city government to work with them to find a suitable plan to divest here at NMU and also hopefully within the city,” Geary said.

In October of 2022, Divest NMU members attended a Marquette City Commision meeting speaking in support of divestment at the city level.

Geary said having these conversations with both the campus community and the larger Marquette community, has enabled them to have their voices heard. By hosting these events, Divest NMU wants to use their momentum on campus and their voices to push NMU to pursue divestment action on campus. 

“At the end of the day we’d love to see Northern take initiatives towards divestment to create an even more ethical footprint,” Geary said.