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Students protest University of Illinois fossil fuel investments

Protesters march along Daniel Street in Champaign. Members of the group said they want the University of Illinois to stop investing in funds that support the fossil fuel industry.

When the push for the University of Illinois to divest from fossil fuels began thirteen years ago, many students said they were hopeful that administrators would listen to their concerns.

But students who gathered at the Alma Mater statue on Friday for an Earth Day climate strike on April 22 said they’re still fighting for their voices to be heard.

Students at the event said they were protesting the university’s continued investments in fossil fuels.

Those investments now total around $230 million dollars, according to the student group UIUC Beyond Coal.

Student Rudy LaFave leads strike attendees in a chant in front of Foellinger Auditorium on the U of I campus. Hannah Lonergan

“It is so important for the university to stop funding these companies and reinvest in renewable energy, as we need to start funding the solution and not the problem,” said Alec Van Patten, the president of Students for Environmental Concerns.

Although the university promised to completely divest from fossil fuels by 2025 in the Illinois Climate Action Plan, students said, the document is nonbinding.

University of Illinois student Maura O’Grady said she believes this is a way for the University to avoid action.

“It’s very important for the University to show its support in all the things that it claims is important, like lowering fossil fuels,” O’Grady said. “It has a lot of goals that mention that, but we just want to hold them accountable.”

More than 60 people attended the strike.

University officials said a spokesperson was unavailable to comment on the criticism from students who attended the strike.

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