The University of Connecticut’s chapter of Fridays For Future — the group which organized the climate strike on Sept. 20 — staged its first sit-in at Gulley Hall on Friday as part of its campaign to pressure university administration to adequately address the climate crisis.
The occupation came on the heels of President Katsouleas’ response to the demands of strikers in which he committed the university to a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — a goal in line with Governor Ned Lamont’s statewide objectives. Katsouleas also alluded to divesting the UConn Foundation from the fossil fuel industry and revealed plans to create a centralized working group focused on environmental sustainability.
In a press release Thursday, Fridays For Future praised President Katsouleas’ punctual response but believed it to be inadequate.
“His commitments did not provide enough detail to satisfy our membership,” the statement reads. “Divestment cannot just be alluded to — it must be accomplished. We applaud the President’s swift and transparent reply. But, we demand plans and actions, not just promises.”
The group also said its demands for a declaration of climate emergency, a stop to the expansion of all new fossil fuel infrastructure, a transition to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible and a prioritization of diversity in environmental spaces on campus were left unanswered.
As such, the group decided to continue its plans for a sit-in.
Harry Zehner, a member of the Fridays For Future and Daily Campus opinion editor, stated in an email to members that 40-50 members attended over the 7.5 hour timeframe of the event at Gulley Hall.
Ben Gladstone, a third-semester environmental science major and attendee of the sit-in, said the occupation was effective. Gladstone committed to attend sit-ins every Friday.
“I also think it’s a first step and a change in strategy may be needed in the future,” Gladstone added. “I think the tables on Fairfield Way are doing the most to get people joining.”
According to Gladstone, the demonstrators met little pushback from authorities but mentioned that the group was relocated at one point.
When asked of personal motivations for sitting in, Gladstone simply stated, “Survival.”
Nick Carbone is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.