If poverty is the cause of environmental degradation, what is the cause of poverty and how do we fight it? The United States is less than 5 percent of the earth's population, and we use about 25 percent of the earth’s fossil fuel resources, according to the Worldwatch Institute. This consumption is directly related to the affluence of the U.S., but I don’t think it’s a question of how wealthy our country is, but how that wealth is distributed.
I don’t plan to find the solution to poverty in the United States in one column (maybe I’ll tackle that next week), but I will try and acknowledge how this is relevant on Ohio University’s level.
Right now, the wealth at Ohio University is very top heavy. Top administrators are out paid compared to the rest of this community. Is it coincidence that these are the same people that have control over decision making? Graduate Student Senate President Carl Edward Smith III recently wrote about how he has been left out of key decision-making processes. Without representation, how can anyone working under administrators — whether they’re a part of senate, faculty, or just a student — be responsible for the decisions OU makes?
One solution would be to organize a massive pulling of funds, but that would deny us of education. So, to combat this unequal distribution of wealth, organizing is key. Money and power seems to be in the hands of a few, but students have the power of numbers. If we all stand up together and demand more out of our leaders, I believe they would listen.
But the main issue at hand is transparency. From past conversations with fellow students and friends, it is quite difficult for an average student to understand how decisions are made at OU.
Divestment from fossil fuels is a good example because, even though I think divestment is necessary at OU, it doesn't appear to be a concern of the administration. We shouldn’t wait to divest until it is an absolutely necessity. It’s seen as a purely financial decision, when in reality it is a moral issue.
If the money at OU is redistributed and administrators are more transparent about where it goes, we all can be responsible for how this university is run and we can all decide what is best for this generation and those that follow.
If we fight against poverty, we are fighting for the environment. If we all have the ability to help make decisions, we can decide what is best for everyone instead of a few.
There will be a panel of speakers at the Front Room from 2-4 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 13, who will speak about divestment and how we can apply it to this campus.
Grant Stover is a sophomore studying English, a member of the Environmental Committee on Student Senate and a member of the Sierra Coalition at Ohio University. Email him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter at @grant_stover.