The Gustavian Weekly

Our Future, Our Voices, #OurGustavus

By The Weekly Staff | April 25, 2014 | Features

Students gather to rejuvenate the meaning of community

Junior Nicole Ektnitphong takes a break from painting a sign for Divest-Fest to pose for a picture. Submitted

Junior Nicole Ektnitphong takes a break from painting a sign for Divest-Fest to pose for a picture. Submitted

Today, students of Gustavus Adolphus College will gather together outside the chapel to rejuvenate the meaning of community damaged by the disempowerment of its representatives. 

The students will participate in Divest-Fest, a community rally in the pursuit of student voice in investment and administrative decisions that will affect the community’s future.

“What we really like to focus on is that it’s not us against them. It’s about reviving the meaning of community and reestablishing what it means to have a relationship with our administrators who have the role of making a lot of the decisions for our campus,” Junior Nicole Ektnitphong said.

Divest-Fest is an event led by students of ‘Our Future, Our Voices, #OurGustavus,’ a group who came together after advocating for their individual athletic teams, initiatives, classes, and investments that they are passionate about.

“I am on the Nordic ski team and was affected by the cut of that, so we reached out to Nicole, and we decided that while all of these cuts are going on, a collective voice would be much stronger than each of our individual voices coming in different angles,” Sophomore Marit Sonnesyn said.

The Board of Trustees Finance Committee is one of the only committees without student representation, so a main goal of Divest-Fest is to advocate for financial transparency.

“As far as our financial issues go, we want to have a voice with the administration. Instead of the administration making all of the decisions, we want to be more inclusive as a community. We are Gustavus. The administration exists because we come here, not the other way around, and I think they should act like that,” Sophomore Alex Luing said.

Another focus of Divest-Fest will be the fight to dissociate endowment investments from fossil fuels.

Students painted drums and signs to prepare to use at the Divest-Fest Rally today. Submitted

Students painted drums and signs to prepare to use at the Divest-Fest Rally today. Submitted

“Being in the position of privilege that most of the people here are, we don’t really have to see or feel the affects of fossil fuels right away, or if we do, not nearly to the same extent that people in other countries do. But it will eventually affect us in those ways, so it’s something we should pay attention to,” Luing said.

Ektnitphong believes that as members of the Gustavus community, whether directly affected by the issues presented through the Divest-Fest or not, students still have an obligation to take notice.

“The simple reason is because you are a member of the community by being at Gustavus, but also because ‘#OurGustavus’ is about us and it completely thrives off of including student voices. We need everyone. The care is already open and given to students. It’s really simple. Being a part of the community is why people should care, but also knowing that this movement is for students by students,” Ektnitphong said.

If you would like to show your support as a member of the Gustavus community, the members of Divest-Fest invite you to show up.

“The best way to help is to show support. Show up today and have your presence known. Maybe you’re not involved in the organization of the event, but just showing up and showing that you support the movement and other students on campus is the best way to help. Be there for one another,” Sonnesyn said.

Tentative Schedule

10:25 a.m. – Board exits the chapel following the newly tenured faculty service; drumming and chants begin

10:30 a.m. – Emcee gives opening remarks

10:33 a.m. – Testimonies from groups

10:35 a.m. – Divorce from fossil fuels skit

10:40 a.m. – Music, dancing, singing, etc. Closing remarks from emcees, One Love

10:50 a.m. – Finish rally; move on to post-rally

Post-Rally – Presentation on Divestment; invite Board to chat about transparency; jam session