Students Arrested at Sit-In

by: EJ on 04/20/2015

Students at Yale, Harvard and University of Mary Washington made the news last week when they were arrested  during non-violent protests. What burning social justice issue were these students protesting?  War? Student fees? Minimum wage?  No, these students were protesting the fact that their universities are refusing to #divest from fossil fuels.

Students are part of the #divestment movement and 350.org.   Students at Yale University were calling on the administration to reopen the conversation on fossil fuel divestment. The sit-in follows a two year effort by student group Fossil Free Yale to work with the administration to divest the university’s endowment from fossil fuels. Yale President Peter Salovey  says that divesting from fossil fuels is either unwarranted or does not comport with fiduciary obligations. For its part, the student-led movement at Yale is fighting for the school to divest its $23.9 billion endowment from all holdings in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.

At the University of Mary Washington, students had been holding a sit-in for 21 days.  Three students were arrested when they refused to leave the premises and were charged with trespassing. Divest UMW​ students began the non­violent sit­-in of their President’s office on ​March 26​. Students occupied the building after their Board of Visitors ​refused to hold a vote​ on the campaign’s proposal to form a divestment subcommittee. Divest UMW is demanding that their Board of Visitors takes action towards full divestment by creating a divestment subcommittee that is committed to removing investments in coal by May 2016.

Why would talented and bright students risk their future university and professional careers in an argument with university administrators over investments?  Richard Heinberg, author of Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels sheds light on this issue with his video, "The Great Burning".  "Most of us tend to ignore the tremendous inferno blazing around us," he says.  These brave students understand that a future based on fossil fuels is a dead end for all of us.

For more information about the #divestment movement and to learn more about how to divest from fossil fuels visit www.gofossilfree.org .

 

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