News Local/State

Environment Activists Return To U Of I Campus For Climate Strike Two

Climate Strike Two demonstrators.

Demonstrators march from the University of Illinois Main Quad to the Swanlund Administration Building for a rally as part "Climate Strike Two" on Friday. Dana Cronin/Illinois Public Media

A group gathered on the University of Illinois Urbana campus Friday to call for action to combat climate change. “Climate Strike Two” was a follow-up to the Climate Strike event held on the U of I campus September 20. That event was part of a student-led global protest calling for greater efforts to address climate change, and drew more than 1,000 people from the campus and community, according to a News-Gazette estimate.

Friday’s follow-up event drew a smaller turnout. But members of Students For Environmental Concerns, which organized both events, say they’re continuing to attract interest in their concerns.

Activities began on the university’s Main Quad during the noon hour, including a group of carolers, who harmonized on lyrics calling attention to climate change, set to traditional Christmas melodies. “Silent Night” became:

Changing tides, changing tides,

Hope is low, fear is high,

Until we learn again how to receive,

Our role in a web of community.

Then we all can have peace, then we all can have peace.

Also on the Quad, students collected signatures for a petition calling on the U of I administration to divest from Ameren and other companies involved with fossil fuels.

“We’ve had hundreds of students just today add to our email list in signing the petitions,” said Abbi Pstrzrock, a U of I student and president of Students For Environmental Concerns. “So if anything, they’re going to keep hearing from us about environmental issues, and not just ours.”

Divestment is a long-term concern of Students For Environmental Concerns. The subject was raised at an afternoon rally, held in front of the university’s Swanlund Administration Building.

Speaking through a megaphone, Cheyenne Wendell, who heads up SEC’s Fossil Free UIUC campaign, renewed the call for the U of I to divest from Ameren and other companies that make money off of fossil fuels.

“I’m frankly tired of people coming up to me at Board of Trustees meetings and telling me, yeah, we could divest if we wanted,” Wendell told the gathering. “So why we haven’t we?

In addition to the call for fossil fuel divestment, speakers at the Climate Strike Two rally called on Governor J.B. Pritzker to support a ban on fracking, which is permitted by a 2013 state law, and passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. That legislation, which is pending in the Illinois General Assembly, promote reduces use of fossil fuel-based energy sources such as coal and petroleum, in favor of renewable energy.