With the well-deserved worry over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forcing students off campus, it can be easy to forget about other important issues impacting the future of LMU. Case in point: what lies ahead for Divest LMU.
The anti-fossil fuel movement on the University's campus, a coalition between the environmentalist student organization EcoStudents and ASLMU, had its biggest moment the week before spring break, when a large demonstration was held across various locations on campus, as reported by the Loyolan.
"When we say we are advocating for fossil fuel divestment," the group's pinned Facebook message reads, "we mean that we are asking [the] administration (in particular, our CFO and Board of Trustees Endowment Committee) to sell LMU's shares in funds or stocks that are involved in the production of fossil fuels."
As man-made climate change becomes an ever-increasing problem for the world, with the warmest January in recorded history happening this year according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is some hope in seeing students at LMU being one of the causes of this heating effect in our own community.
However, I do fear that this proactive movement might slow to a full stop in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic essentially cutting campus's functionality to the bare minimum for the spring semester. It becomes crucial, then, that this movement stays alive between now and our return in the fall.
It could be very easy for the administration here to have an, albeit understandable, excuse to push fossil fuel divestment discussions far down the agenda as issues surrounding housing, construction, etc. get more attention in the pandemic.
To be fair, those aforementioned issues do need serious time and attention. But how soon will the public support for divestment fade from our consciousness after weeks upon months of other pressing issues?
After all, this isn't the first time Divest LMU has tried to kick the administration off of investing in fossil fuels. There was a petition last spring semester from the club EcoStudents to eliminate ties to tar sands that failed to make much progress, and there have been countless attempts at similar proposals extending all the way back to 2013. Depending on how things go, 2020 might not be the last attempt.
People not only have short attention spans, but they also have a limited amount of time and energy to care about low time sensitivity, high importance issues. We're focused on bills, grades, basic survival, and now we have those stressors compounded by problems threatening the planet.
With locusts in east Africa, extreme climate disasters in Australia and the other tragedies already mentioned, it can feel like we're living through the plagues of Exodus. We have to keep sight of the issues that united our community together in order to bring positive, green change to the community. There's still an opportunity for students to lead the charge against fossil fuel money on campus.
Letter-writing. Online organizations. Even something as minimal as social media posts can be of some use during times of quarantine and social distancing.
I know that every single LMU student either has or would rather have anything else on their mind right now, as ordinary life for most feels like a distant memory. We're not even going to see our University for the rest of the spring semester.
Luckily, we will return to campus in the fall we semester once we overcome the worst of this pandemic. When we do, we'll need to know if the efforts Divest LMU took before and during our absence paid off in the end.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email email@example.com.