“I care about the environment”—a curious thing to say; most people wouldn’t hesitate to say it if asked whether they did, but not as many would stand up for it. Arriving at Northeastern as a first year student, I knew that I wanted to do something for the environment that I cared about. I found DivestNU for the first time on a Thursday evening and found myself in awe at all the stories of the senior members. I wasn’t sure where I could start to make even a minute difference. In the months that followed, I saw for the first time the strength of the collective ideal that I so proudly claimed to be a part of—that climate injustice is unacceptable.
Like climate change, the issue of my own university’s investments funding fossil fuels was a daunting one. I wasn’t sure where to begin. DivestNU empowered me to realize how much I truly cared about the issue and with that came strength.
I sat awkwardly in a common room at my dorm. Friends strolled by, I made weak pitches, but nevertheless they happily signed the climate legacy pledge, promising not to donate to Northeastern until our administration takes action to divest from fossil fuels. It being a Friday evening, the room soon filled with people, chatter, and laughter—amidst this, I pushed myself to canvass more people and slowly I became more comfortable with it. By the end of the night I felt overjoyed that I did what I never thought I could do. I was starting to discover my voice.
Weeks later, I met with a small group to prepare signs for President Aoun’s annual State of the University Address. We scavenged for cardboard, gathered art materials, and made t-shirts. Once we got ideas flowing, thoughts bounced from person to person, to the whiteboard, and finally in paint onto our signs. By the end of the evening, we were ready. We set out to raise awareness of a long ignored truth; that following day, we did. I was starting to make a difference.
Months later, I stood alongside fellow DivestNU members and a whole crowd of other students, college professors, and community members for a Boston-wide climate march. In unison, we chanted cheesy lyrics to cheesy tunes; the truth to them was no less apparent. As we walked through downtown, we blocked whole roads and attracted a whole lot of attention. I found myself at the front of the crowd holding a banner that said: “Jobs, Justice, Climate”. People prepared beautiful posters, the crowd chanted with wild vigor, and I was amidst it all, a young member of the divest community—the overall effect was unforgettable; I was starting to truly feel like I was a part of the cause.
I began the semester with a love for the environment but unsure as to how I could make a difference. I ended the semester having found how I can start to make that difference. To any fellow student who is unsure about how they can contribute to the fight for climate justice, it can all begin with DivestNU—It’s a beautiful thing to see ideas set to action. I’m looking forward to future semesters of progress with DivestNU—and you can be a part of it too.