FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 33 Students and Alumni Occupy President’s Office for Fossil Fuel Divestment
contacts: Ben Weilerstein 215-740-9296 Miranda Willson 914-815-3648
On the morning of April 22, 2015, 33 students, alumni and local organizers entered the administrative building Ballou Hall to demand a meeting with Tufts University administration regarding fossil fuel divestment. The students, mostly members of the group Tufts Climate Action, reported that they plan to peacefully occupy Ballou Hall until administrators agrees to meet with them and commit to divesting the school’s endowment from fossil fuel companies over a 5-year period.
This action coincides with escalated divestment protests and sit-ins across the country, including at Harvard University, Yale University, Swarthmore College and the University of Mary Washington. Today Tufts is joining in solidarity with millions of people around the world that are already suffering due to catastrophic climate change – climate change that the school’s endowment is endorsing through its investments.
Tufts Climate Action emphasized that the climate crisis is an imminent danger to mostly low-income communities and communities of color across the world, and Tufts simply cannot continue to invest in and profit from this destruction. In its mission statement, Tufts University boasts its innovative nature and support of active citizens. By investing $80 million in fossil fuel companies, the University is both ignoring the facts of climate change and refusing to live up to its own core values.
Students involved with Tufts Climate Action, formerly known as Tufts Divest For Our Future, have been campaigning for fossil fuel divestment since Fall 2012. In February of 2014, President Monaco released a statement saying that the University will not divest Tufts from fossil fuels “at this time,” despite support from 74% of the student body, 45 faculty and 200 alumni.
“Injustice is not an investment,” said a Tufts Climate Action representative on behalf of the group, adding that they plan to do whatever it takes to pressure the Tufts administration to pull their investments from an industry that profits from destroying the environment and our communities.
“Rearranging your morals to value human lives over profit is a powerful form of resistance against systems that tell us otherwise,” said freshman Grace Cooper. “That’s why I’m sitting in today.”
In addition, students are rallying outside of Ballou Hall in support of the sit-in as well as divestment from private prisons and corporations profiting from occupation of Palestine. Tufts Climate Action is a member of the Coalition for Prison Divestment, which also includes Students for Justice in Palestine, Tufts Labor Coalition, Tufts United for Immigrant Justice, and Students Against Mass Incarceration. “The fossil fuel industry is inextricably linked to the same systems of racism, violence, and oppression enacted through the private prison industry and corporations operating in occupied Palestine. We are in solidarity with TCA, as we know Tufts continues to tie our money up in these corrupt industries and refuse to let our administration give our stamp of approval,” said senior and organizer Emily Iwamoto.