Bank’s recruiting sparks protest

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SLU students collaborated with Rainforest Action Network at a recruitment presentation and job fair, both held this week. Protesting against Citibank, students pushed the bank to stop funding fossil fuels and redirect investments toward cleaner energy sources.

Students chanted “we won’t work for climate chaos!” in the meeting room on the third floor of the Busch Student Center after students delivered a letter to the bank’s recruiters and explained to the room exactly what they were protesting.

“Now more than ever we need to find alternative, green energy so that we can stop climate change and stop the destruction of millions of acres of land. Banks can easily help solve this problem by divesting in the coal industry,” said Summer Worthington, SLU student and organizer of the action.

Along with Bank of America and J.P. Morgan, Citibank ranks in the top three investors to the coal industry. Last year, these banks invested a total of $8 billion to coal companies that practice mountaintop removal (MTR) mining. This method, widely used in the Appalachian Mountains, renders the land unusable and dumps toxic byproducts in nearby valleys.

These banks are also recruiting SLU students for future employees.

Citibank was originally scheduled to attend Wednesday’s career fair in the BSC. However their table was vacant on the day of the event.

A placard on their table  read, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, Citi will not be able to attend the Career Fair today.” Protesters showed up regardless, holding signs and taking pictures.

“We scored a win against Citibank when they decided not to come to the Career Fair,” Worthington said. “We are at a crucial point in history.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the industry sector burning fossil fuels for energy.

This also generates pollutants that have been shown to damage cardiovascular and respiratory health. The goal of the Rainforest Action Network is to draw attention to this crucial environmental and public health issue and to put an end to large banks like Citibank giving loans to the coal industry.

The campaign has already had some success. In  2009 the country’s eight leading banks limited their funding for companies that practice MTR mining due to grassroots pressure to discontinue the practice.

Since 2011, total investment in the U.S. coal industry has been cut in half. As the movement has grown, actions have been showing up on college campuses across the country, including a “die-in” staged at Washington University last week, where 35 students fell to the floor at a recruitment event in order to draw attention to the public health implications of MTR mining.

Today’s students are making important choices about their future careers, sometimes facing a dilemma between esteemed work and their own moral beliefs.

Many students, locally and nationally, are making it clear that they are eager to work for a healthy climate.