The Environmental Leadership Action Network will be hosting an open mic night Dec. 9 to summarize its accomplishments with the Divest IC campaign this semester and to educate students that divesting from the fossil-fuel industry is more than an environmental problem.
The divestment campaign is an initiative led by a coalition of student groups requesting the college take the money from its endowment, which includes donations and investments, that is currently invested in unsustainable energy corporations and reinvest it in better alternatives.
Students are invited to sign up to perform spoken-word poetry or songs and tell narratives or stories about personal experiences with social-justice issues.
Throughout the semester, senior Rebecca Billings, an executive board member of ELAN, said the Divest IC coalition has been active because students involved with the campaign were able to talk to administration and voice their concerns through multiple actions. Recently, the group protested outside a Board of Trustees dinner Oct. 23 to educate members of the board about divestment.
Billings said ELAN created the Divest IC Open Mic Night event as a way to educate, learn and voice opinions. Divestment from the fossil-fuel industry is not something that only one student organization is fighting for, but she said it concerns the entire social-justice movement.
ELAN reached out to other social-justice groups to co-sponsor the event because divesting from the fossil-fuel industry affects other common problems that students on campus are fighting for. Co-sponsors of the event are Artist 4 Artist, the Ithaca College Environmental Society, IC Organic Growers, Feminists United, IC Greens and Shaleshock.
Jessie Braverman, campus outreach coordinator for Feminists United, said every student on campus has an issue they are passionate about that affects everyone around them. She said the goal of the event is to bring these people together.
“Hopefully, this event will allow them to sit down and listen to what other people are also passionate about and really think critically about these issues and try to understand what they’re passionate about,” Braverman said.
In addition to being an environmental concern, Billings said, divesting from fossil fuels usually has an impact on communities struggling from other social issues like racism, classism and poverty.
“These groups of people also often have less means to protect themselves … against it in a defensive way and also in an offensive way, and take action against the fossil-fuel industry when they are doing harm to those people because they have potentially less resources, less means to legal rights and also are societally oppressed in other ways that our structure doesn’t allow them to step up and fight back,” Billings said.
Senior Tessa Crisman said she is an advocate for social and environmental justice. There are several social-justice issues, and advocates tend to stay committed to one issue, she said.
Crisman said because the world is systematic, all these individual issues are connected whether or not the advocates themselves are integrated.
“It’s really important to get the student body behind you because, in one way or another, we do have a diverse student body with diverse interests, so if we can get a lot of people to recognize a common cause, that’s really powerful,” she said. “Having this open mic night is an attempt to do that.”
Billings said students who are interested in performing can sign up by emailing ELAN at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing the Google Doc posted on ELAN’s Facebook page.