On Monday, Oct. 28, the University of Connecticut’s chapter of Fridays For Future leadership announced their resignation in an email to the Fridays For Future membership. Despite this, the group held their usual sit-ins in President Katsouleas’ office on Friday.
Fridays For Future began as a branch of the international School Strike for the Climate, a movement started by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. UConn Fridays For Future held their initial strike on Sept. 20, during which they announced their seven demands for the UConn administration and their intention to hold weekly sit-ins until the demands are met.
Progress has been relatively steady for Fridays For Future. The group has fulfilled the commitment to hold sit-ins every Friday, as well as organizing other events.
This week, however, saw major changes within the group.
The Monday email from the executive board explained that the leaders had chosen to resign for a myriad of reasons, most prominently due to conflict around the delivery of Fridays for Future’s climate justice message.
“Everyone has come to this decision individually and for different reasons. Fridays For Future is first and foremost; a non-partisan social change group focused on inclusivity and non-violence. If that message has not been clear, that is our fault,” read the email. “Many, including people outside of this group, are concerned that the group has taken on a combative tone. We are not the right people to lead this movement anymore.”
Emily Kaufman, a fifth-semester environmental studies and sociology major and former treasurer of Fridays For Future, confirmed this when she explained her personal reasons for resignation.
This announcement came on the heels of Fridays For Future’s second mass action event on Friday, Oct. 25. That event focused on the seventh of Fridays For Future’s demands, which calls for increased diversity in environmental spaces.
“I left Fridays For Future because the organization no longer aligned with my activism goals,” said Kaufman. “Raising awareness through communication, education and equitable practice is how I want to dedicate my time as an activist. I left because I felt that the group no longer aligned with these interests.”
Despite the lack of current leadership, the group held their sixth weekly sit-in Friday. The event started with the group congregating on the seal on Fairfield Way and marching to Gulley Hall. This was followed by speeches outside Gulley Hall and the typical sit-in.
For the Fridays For Future members who were there, the resignations seemed to be nothing more than a bump in the road. Member Daniyku Osorio, a marine science, molecular and cell biology and Spanish triple major, said that the resignations could even be a positive.
“The resignation process is something that happens, so it’s not necessarily bad.” said Osorio. “If people are not prepared to take the reins, I think that can be actually problematic. It’s good that they just resigned.”
But, the future was still a topic of conversation for the members in attendance. In addition to holding their sit-in on Nov. 1, Fridays For Future also held elections for the leadership positions. Michio Agresta, third-semester natural resources major and candidate for the Fridays For Future leadership, discussed changes coming to the organization.
“People are reworking the demands in a sense,” said Agresta. “We’re looking at the science behind this. It shows that if we students can solve this, then the administration can do something about it.”
Harrison Raskin, a first-semester philosophy major and member of Fridays For Future, also mentioned some changes he’d like to see in the organization.
“[I’m] looking to and currently witnessing a sustained commitment on behalf of all the members. The organization needs to grow. It needs to include more people,” said Raskin.
However, the core message of Fridays For Future still resonates with Raskin.
“We will, no matter how small the organization is, hold actions and sit-ins every single Friday until the university pursues climate justice such as we understand it.”
Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.