Hear from a student activist: “We are fighting for our existence”

by Cassady Craighill

February 26, 2013

Below is a blog from Greenpeace student leader Chellsee Lee following the #fowardonclimate rally in washington, dc on president’s day weekend, originally posted to WeArePowerShift.org


Hip Hop Caucus CEO Reverand Yearwood compared the environmental movement to the civil rights movement. The difference he said, was that they were fighting for their rights, and we are fighting for our existence.

As I stood next to 45,000 other people all lost in thought I was finally able to formulate the words that have hung on the tip of my tongue for so long. The reason I am fighting for clean energy, the reason I am in and out of meetings with staff and faculty, the reason I am empowering individuals, the reason I am making sacrifices everyday is because the actions we take as a university directly impact those living next to a pipeline, drinking contaminated ground water, breathing in the ashes of our mistakes. The money our university gives to big coal companies directly affects the communities that struggle every day, often times forcing themselves to work in the same coal plants that are giving their families cancer. The reason I am fighting against dirty energy and dirty money is because my family was victim to this climate oppression. As we breathed the industrial fumes of our fate we were the victims of the decisions of the people with opportunity and privilege.

Energy is the foremost problem that is perpetuating oppression, social, economic, and environmental injustices. Our decisions are what is displacing families and indigenous people in Canada right now, our decisions are what will change the world forever. So I empower you all to take a second and ask yourself if you are okay with how your money is being spent. Are you okay with the money you may have to work years paying off after you graduate is going to these coal companies. Last year alone nearly 8 million UCSB tuition dollars went towards electricity companies and nearly 2 million went to natural gas. Are you okay with your money fracking land that contaminates drinking water and leads to cancers in children, mothers, and unborn babies? Are you okay with your hard earned work polluting the world, and sabotaging your childrens future?

Fortunately for those that have not yet decided, students here at UCSB and our group, UC for Clean Energy has decided to make this decision for you. As students, as people we are not satisfied with these circumstances. We want a clean university, clean of oppression, clean of dirty money, and free of regret and guilt. UC for Clean energy is no longer willing to play by the terms of the university. We will show them that Clean energy is a priority we are willing to fight for. However just like coal companies, a university is run on strict politics and we are going to need your help to break down the walls of faculty. We are going to need your help in creating the largest movement on campus and in California and hopefully the nation. I am challenging you all to become dissatisfied with the way things are run around here, I am asking you to look around and realize that there is a world outside of midterms and internships and asking you to see how you are directly impacting the future. So ask yourself one last time today… are you okay with what you are doing for this world right now?

Are you a student interested in learning organizing skills for your future? Greenpeace is accepting applications for our Greenpeace Semester summer sessions. Learn more and apply now!

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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