Dozens participate in Campus Center divestment rally
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 06:03
Members of the Tufts community gathered on the Mayer Campus Center’s lower patio yesterday to support divestment of the university’s endowment from fossil fuel companies with a rally organized by Tufts Divest for Our Future.
The rally was scheduled yesterday to coincide with a National Day of Action and held simultaneously with other pro-divestment events on over 200 college campuses across the country, according to Tufts Divest co-founder Emily Edgerly.
The purpose of the rally, she said, was to demonstrate the urgency of the climate situation and to push the administration to take more direct action following the divestment proposal Tufts Divest submitted to the Board of Trustees in January.
“We’re not trying to antagonize [the Board] by any means,” Edgerly, a sophomore, said. “We just really want to show you [the Board] can’t just block us. You can’t try to fizzle this out. We’re going to still keep you accountable.”
Freshman Will Pearl, a leader of the Tufts Divest working group, said that the rally was meant to frame the fossil fuel issue as a social justice issue. He noted that the people who will suffer most from the burning of fossil fuels reside in the global south, but have contributed least to the pollution of the Earth.
“Divestment is a tactic,” Pearl, said. “But the goal is justice.”
Just after noon a group of around 40 people, including University President Anthony Monaco, listened to speeches intended to garner divestment support and highlight the other issues involved with the campaign.
Junior Devyn Powell, who helped found Tufts Divest and now serves as the internal communications coordinator for Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), opened with a speech explaining that the square pins of orange felt circulating among participants were a symbol of the campaign’s mission, which extends beyond green initiatives.
“This movement is about so much more than going green,” Powell, a junior, said. “Climate change is the social issue of our generation. I ask you all [today] to march forth with us for climate justice.”
Executive director of the Better Future Project and co-founder of SJSF Craig Altemose cited three key factors of the movement — that there is a climate crisis, that it is worse than commonly realized and that the attendees of the rally have become actors in the movement to stop this crisis.
Altemose spoke on the dangers of rising temperatures and the fatal implications they hold for humanity.
“It’s selfish of us to say we deserve everything we want because we are too lazy to change,” he said. “Tufts is going to divest because you won’t stop until they do.”
Ben Thompson, the Boston University chair for SJSF, called on younger generations to take control of their choices for the sake of the future.
“We need a call to action like none before in history,” he said.
TCU Senator Logan Cotton closed the speeches by discussing the way the divestment campaign intersects with the drive for social justice.
“[It is] a struggle that should talk about gender, race and equality,” Cotton, a senior, said. “I stand with you all and I appreciate everything you have done.”
The rally continued with a procession that turned left on Professors Row, up the presidential lawn staircase and to the front of Ballou Hall.
“We want administration to hear our voices and hear our presence,” Edgerly said. “We want to keep active students engaged, and we want to make our presence loud on campus.”
Drums and picket signs accompanied the rally along with songs and chants led by Tufts Divest Co-founder Dan Jubelirer, a sophomore.
Tufts Sustainability Collective member Rose Eilenberg, a senior, attended the rally and said she saw it as a successful display of how the issue of fossil fuel investment has implications that extend beyond the limited scope of the university’s management of its endowment