Hannah Michelle Bussa
DivestNU, a coalition of students advocating for the University of Nebraska to divest from the fossil fuel industry, is planning for a month of action this April.
Zee Elmer is one of the founding members of the DivestNU movement. They are a junior at UNO studying environmental science and sustainability.
“DivestNU is an action-oriented coalition of students that is dedicated to raising awareness of our current climate crisis, the impact fossil fuels has on it, and why the University of Nebraska should fully divest all funds from the fossil fuel industry,” Elmer said. “The least we can do is commit to, and follow through with, divestment. Ultimately, I would like to see those funds shifted to research in renewable energy, but divesting is the first, and most crucial, step.”
Elmer said UNO students can become involved in the call for divestment and know how important it is.
“Fossil fuels contribute roughly 76% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” they said. “When we take the money we are giving to fossil fuel companies away and instead invest it into alternatives like solar energy, we create a level playing field for sustainable alternatives to become more prevalent in the market. This would result in a natural reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which we need if we want to slow, stop, and undo the damage we have done to our climate.”
Elmer also discussed the individual steps they have taken to be sustainable.
“I am always looking for ways that I can do better to help our planet,” they said. “To me, this movement has been the most good I can do. Our outreach to the public to gain support has given me the opportunity to learn more about topics such as environmental racism, as well as to help others find ways to be more aware of their impact on the environment.”
Elmer said they encourage all students to get involved where they feel comfortable. DivestNU has several action steps in the month of April that students can get involved in.
To get involved in DivestNU’s work, follow them on Instagram @divest_nu. There, links can be found to the following action steps.
April’s actions include signing and sharing the petition; flooding NU’s direct messages on Wednesday, April 7; testifying at the Board of Regents meeting on Friday, April 9, at 9 a.m. in Lincoln; submitting written testimony to the Board of Regents; and preparing to protest.
“All April actions are dependent upon the Board of Regents meeting,” Elmer said. “We have asked them to announce divestment during their April 9th meeting. Depending on whether or not they do, we will continue to build our presence and keep pressure on them. This movement is not going away.”
If NU does not announce divestment on Friday, April 9, DivestNU will protest and hold long-term sit-ins. DivestNU will also hold a rally on Wednesday, April 21 at the UNL City Union Plaza if divestment has yet to be announced.
“I hope the Board of Regents is listening to us,” Elmer said. “We are not doing this to be a thorn in their side but because we love NU and we want NU to be leading the change, but so far it just feels like we are falling further and further behind the curve.”