Banners and flyers promoting a University of Michigan (UM) student group’s pro-fossil fuel event were ripped down and replaced with socialist propaganda.
The flyers advertised a Wednesday Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) event titled “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” featuring Pierre Desrochers, an affiliated scholar with the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center and professor of geography at the University of Toronto.
So far, the group’s flyers have been vandalized in three separate instances over the course of several days, beginning Sunday.
In one instance, the group’s banners promoting the pro-fossil fuel event were covered over by a leaflet from The Socialist Equality Party championing an alternative event titled “Socialism and the Fight against War.”
Some of the group’s banners promoting Desrochers’s talk were ripped down from walls all across campus.
UM YAL members were not surprised by the vandalism.
“There is little culture of free exchange for ideas at the University of Michigan. This intolerance is only spread through our reinforced biases,” Kayla Garthus, the school’s co-president of Young Americans for Liberty, said in an interview with The College Fix.
Others were struck by how emotional people are about divesting.
“I am surprised at how emotional people become about something they reap the benefits of every day, in some way, shape, or form,” Daisy Belden, the group’s co-president, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “When you drink clean water, heat your home, wear clothing, cook food, or use plastics, you are benefiting from fossil fuels.”
Belden wrote an editorial in December for the conservative-leaning Michigan Review directed toward the anti-fossil fuel crowd. Her editorial, mirroring her comments to TheDCNF, argued fossil fuels provide a useful service to people.
Fossil fuel divestment has become a cause célèbre recently on the UM campus — student activists, among others, have busted out of the woodwork, placing pressure on UM President Mark Schlissel to sell off the school’s oil and coal assets.
As of now, Schlissel has not been swayed by the calls, telling climate change activists in December the school needs the fossil fuel industry to run.
“I do not believe that a persuasive argument has been made that divestment by the U-M will speed up the necessary transition from coal to renewable or less polluting sources of energy,” Schlissel said in a statement announcing his decision.
Schlissel did acknowledge what he sees as the school’s need to mitigate environmental harm. He promised the school is prepared to invest more than $100 million in sustainability efforts over the next several years.
“At this moment, there is no viable alternative to fossil fuels at the necessary scale,” he said in his press statement. “In addition, most of the same companies that extract or use fossil fuels are also investing heavily in a transition to natural gas or renewables.”