Activists: to profit or punish?

Staff Editorial

UVM, where are you? Here you are, posting a “Photo of the Week” of senior Jillian Scannell, SGA president, on your Instagram.

You write, “More than 500 community members gathered outside the Davis Center Sept. 20, speaking out and connecting with campus environmental organizations.”

Around 600 students attended the climate strike at 11 a.m. Sept. 20 on the Andrew Harris green. There, students and various environmental groups spoke out, raising awareness about climate change and against UVM’s investment in fossil fuels.

In 2013, about 10% of UVM’s endowment, $38.8 million dollars, was invested in fossil fuels, according to a September 2013 Burlington Free Press article.

Richard Cate, who was recently appointed by President Suresh Garimella to run sustainability issues at UVM, said, “Our investment is so small that [fossil fuel] companies wouldn’t be adversely affected.”

Many activists who attended the rally feel that $38.8 million dollars is not a small amount, and they are uncomfortable with the fact that their money is being spent on investments that are environmentally destructive.

Scannell, who organized the event, has even said that divestement should be a top priority.

Yet, here you are UVM, parading all 600 of them around for Instagram clout.

Another protest was held Sept. 25, led by student activist groups NoNames for Justice and Queer Student Action. They were there to address concerns over injustice and white supremacy on campus, senior organizer Harmony Edosomwan said.

Not a single photo was posted on any UVM social media, not a single line of text was written on the UVM website, not a single 280-character tweet was tweeted.

UVM, where were your photographers then?

At a NoNames for Justice rally last year in February, you even went as far as trying to silence multiple activists by issuing student conduct violations for using “amplified sound,” according to a March 27 Cynic article.

UVM, you are not allowed to pretend that activists are on your side when they are not. You are not allowed to blur their views to fit your own.

You do not get to pick and choose which activists you want to promote. If you want prospective students and parents to see our active and opinionated student body, you need to represent the activists that are critical of you as well.

If you are going to support any activists you need to support all activists.