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‘Showing the Government That We’re Going to Follow Science’: University of Florida Student Senate Adopts Green New Deal




Aerial drone image of the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida on Sept. 5, 2022. Michael Warren / Getty Images

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The University of Florida (UF) Student Senate on Tuesday became the first student government at a public university to pass Green New Deal (GND) legislation, according to The Guardian.

The new mandate calls for complete fossil fuel divestment, a just transition, a ban on fossil fuel-funded research and disclosure of UF’s financial affiliations with the private sector.

“This is a momentous milestone for the climate movement. The unanimous passage of a first of its kind GND resolution by UF’s elected student government has now placed even more pressure on public universities to meet the moment by taking action on the greatest crisis of our time,” said UF student Cameron Driggers, Youth Action Fund’s executive director, as The Hill reported.

Climate denialism has been an ongoing issue in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis has demonstrated support for fossil fuels, reported The Guardian. An energy resources bill has also been moving through the state legislature that would eliminate references to climate change.

“Seeing a huge campus in a red state adopt a ‘green new deal’ is hopefully a sign that this movement is spreading to other universities around the country, and start treating this climate crisis like a crisis that it is,” Driggers said, as The Guardian reported.

Driggers pointed out that UF had received a total of $2.3 billion in a private endowment fund as of June of 2022, but how the funds had been invested were not made public. The university’s students have hopes that the new plan will lead to more transparency.

“It’s a public university, public money, and we don’t even know what it’s being spent on,” Driggers noted, as reported by The Guardian.

On March 7, UF’s board of trustees will decide whether to approve the financial section of the GND.

The mandate — drafted by UF’s office of sustainability — calls for the university to immediately implement its Climate Action Plan, which includes a call for reduced emissions from campus traffic and buildings.

“Science has said for decades that climate change is human caused. This is not even a debate any more,” said Sofia Aviles, a third-year UF student and president of Sunrise Movement Gainesville, as The Guardian reported. “And we’re showing the government that we’re going to follow science, and not necessarily what they think should be or should not be in our curriculums or our state laws.”

Other universities across the country have been divesting from fossil fuels — including New York University and the University of Massachusetts — and striving for climate accountability in recent years.

“The student body at the University of Florida has proven that bold climate solutions [are] not only possible at private institutions in liberal states, and it has also sharply rebuked the climate denialism of the DeSantis administration,” Driggers stated, as reported by The Hill.

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