Students at the press conference called for administrators to respond to the referendum vote by allowing the Beyond Coal campaign to make a presentation at the Board of Trustees meeting in March.
Alanna Davis, representative of UNC’s chapter of the N.C. Student Power Union, spoke at the event.
She emphasized the need for demanding greater responsibility in managing the endowment, as well as the need for changing the current power structure to give students a stronger voice.
Davis urged administrators to see that divesting from coal is imperative to the future success of the University and the world.
“Leave your flawed neoliberal ideology behind — break up with the coal industry,” she said. “Join us in creating a brighter, healthier future for all.”
Chancellor Holden Thorp, who did not attend the event, said in a statement that he liked seeing evidence that students care about the environment.
“The University’s endowment is complex, and we are happy to continue to work with students on this issue,” he said, adding that administrators are aware of the referendum results.
Members of the Beyond Coal campaign said they believe coal holds dangerous economic and social consequences.
“Beyond the moral reasons why coal is wrong, the economic reasons don’t make sense,” said Anurag Angara, Sierra Student Coalition’s faculty coordinator.
He said the true social cost of coal is 170 percent of coal’s retail value, and the extra costs are paid by taxpayers — not the coal industry.
He said he believes this cost should be of importance to UNC because it is a public school.
“We are actively investing in an industry that pulls our resources away from us and makes our university less affordable,” he said.
Student body president candidate Christy Lambden also attended the press conference.
Although Lambden said he is fully confident that administrators will not ignore the referendum results, he said the battle will not end even if they do.
“A lot of students have adopted it, a lot of students have supported it — it’s not going anywhere,” he said.
Travis Crayton, chairman of the rules and judiciary committee of Student Congress, originally endorsed the referendum to be on the ballot and played a major part in pushing it forward.
“I don’t know if I was surprised by the results, but I was pleased by them,” he said.
“I think students have spoken very loudly and clearly about how we feel about this issue, and I would hope that the University would take it seriously.”
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