Why We Support Indigenous People’s Day at Tufts

IPD Cover Photo

Across Turtle Island (an Anishinaabe name for North America) and the world, indigenous communities are at the front lines of industrial and environmental destruction. They are among the most threatened by both the impacts of climate change and its causes, namely oil and gas pipelines and drilling sites, and other energy pollution such as radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. In the Dakotas, man camps – where the mostly White, male pipeline and fracking workers live – are rampant with sexual trafficking and rape of Native women. First Nation parents l

iving near tar sands extraction in Athabasca have been forced to choose between feeding their children food that they know is cancerous and not feeding them at all. For the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, traditional food sources have been polluted with carcinogenic runoff from tar-sands mining. Food in stores is often unhealthy and unaffordable for families, many of whom live in poverty. At the same time, indigenous people and nations are leading the fight against fossil-fueled colonialism. The Unist’ot’en in so-called British Columbia are holding a blockade to protect their traditional land from multiple tar sands and fracked gas pipelines that threaten to poison food and water. The Rosebud Sioux tribe and many other Native Americans have been instrumental in the recent defeat of the Keystone XL Pipeline. By celebrating Indigenous People’s Day at Tufts, we can honor the long and ongoing Native tradition of powerful resistance against the fossil fuel industry’s continuation of genocide and colonialism.

Join the movement for Indigenous People’s Day at Tufts on Facebook and sign the petition to show your support!

 

Why I Believe in Divestment

By Grace Cooper

Before I came to Tufts I had never heard the word “divestment”. I was first introduced to the term when I attended Tufts Climate Action’s general interest meeting and listened as past members talked about the history of Tuft’s divestment campaign. After that meeting I knew that divestment meant taking our investments out of fossil fuel companies, which made sense to me, but I didn’t quite understand the importance of divestment or why these students were so passionate about the campaign. As I became more involved with Tufts Climate Action I slowly began to realize just what divestment could do. Yes, Tufts divesting would take about 70 million dollars out of the fossil fuel industry and protect our university from losing money to the carbon bubble, but divestment is more than just about money, in fact the money is probably the least important part. Taking those 70 million dollars out of fossil fuels is a statement. It is taking away fossil fuel companies’ social license to operate by showing the world that it is immoral to profit off of industries that are mainly responsible for destroying our planet and that commit acts of injustice against vulnerable communities. The more I learned about the benefits of divestment from my peers the more it made sense to me, and as it made more sense to me the more I wanted to become a part of the campaign.

What surprised me is that last year Tuft’s Board of trustees refused to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies in the next five years. I had always had the impression that the university I applied to was environmentally responsible. This façade came from the eco-reps, recycling bins all over campus, compost in the dining halls, the farmers market and more. But behind all of these little gestures, the school I was proud to attend was shoveling millions of dollars into the very industries that are destroying the earth and did absolutely nothing to change their ways after the very people who are providing their income through extremely high tuition asked them to stop. Part of me is surprised by this, and part of me isn’t. So many people believe that recycling or taking shorter showers will solve all of our climate problems. In the same way, Tufts thinks that if we have recycling bins on campus its ok to profit off of fossil fuel industries. Thankfully my amazing co-members of Tufts Climate Action have stood up and said no, it is not ok. I could not be more proud to join these heroic students in their fight to create meaningful change by guiding our university towards socially and environmentally responsible practices.

Oil, Hoax, and Gas

The Hoax

This Thursday, October 16, 2014, a strange article was circulated claiming that Tufts University is divesting from oil companies while drilling for a recently-discovered pocket of natural gas under Curtis Hall. It further announced that Tufts would be selling the gas to British Petroleum, which would also sponsor a petroleum engineering center as part of the Chemistry Department in Pearson Hall. Upon closer inspection and communication with President Monaco, it was determined that the article was a hoax.

President Monaco let's us know that it's a hoax.

President Monaco let’s us know that it’s a hoax.

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A hoax, I tell you!

 

 

Digging for Truth

A few other hints further elucidated the article’s phony nature: it was posted on bostonglobetoday.com, not bostonglobe.com, the Globe’s real website. The article’s comment section could not be viewed, and a disclaimer was posted above the article asking commenters to instead email the author directly (the author’s email address looked like, but was in fact not, a valid Boston Globe email address).

Students investigated the fake URL, which has so far clarified very little: it was registered on October 10, 2014 by Domains By Proxy, LLC., so no human name was given. Student members of Tufts Climate Action have since contacted reporters at the Boston Globe to ask for information and to ask if they would cover this strange hoax and the work that is actually being done on campus around divestment, natural gas, and other climate issues. One student, Ben Weilerstein, spoke with a reporter who informed him that it is unlikely the Globe would cover the story. Nonetheless, Jesse requested a link to the phony article. He also mentioned that the Globe’s lawyers might investigate the fake post, since it used the Globe’s name and logo.

 

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

The History

Today’s hoax article, as absurd and unexpected as it was, is based in the history of a campaign that has been working hard to pressure Tufts University’s Board of Trustees to remove the $70 million that it invests in the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel divestment campaign at Tufts formally began in September 2012, when a small group of students began a petition calling on the University to divest. In the beginning of fall semester 2013, over 1000 students voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment, passing a student referendum demanding divestment. This referendum, a variety of student protests, a faculty petition with almost 50 signatures and an alumna petition with over 200 signatures, forced Tufts’ administration to meet and negotiate with students. These negotiations culminated in the Trustees voting not to divest.

By choosing to continue investing in fossil fuels, Tufts is supporting an industry that causes at least 5 million deaths every year and that fundamentally alters the chemical composition of our atmosphere with numerous destructive consequences while blocking world governments’ attempts to confront this crisis.
Students are now organizing and building power to increase the pressure on Tufts’ trustees to divest from fossil fuels. Join us. Click here to sign the student petition to demand that Tufts’ divest from fossil fuels, come to our movie screening of Gasland 2, an intriguing and difficult film about fracking, and come to our weekly meetings in Miner 112 at 8:30 PM. You can contact the group on facebook or twitter and reach out directly to some of our student leaders:
Shana Gallagher (shana.gallagher@tufts.edu), Evan Bell (evan.bell@tufts.edu), Lila Kohrman-Glaser (lila.kohrman_glaser@tufts.edu) and Makaylah Respicio (makaylah.respicio@tufts.edu).

Press Release: Tufts Students Meet with Trustees to Demand Fossil Fuel Divestment

from gofossilfree.org

Here’s a press release from the divestment crew at Tufts about a big meeting they just had with their board of trustees: 

Boston, MA—Early Thursday morning, students with the group Tufts Divest for our Future met for the first time with the Investment Committee of Tufts University’s Board of Trustees to discuss divesting the endowment from fossil fuels.

While four students engaged in dialogue with the Board members, over forty other students and community members stood outside the meeting with signs. The group supports divestment as a method to draw attention to the conflict between the fossil fuel industry’s business plan and the hope of preserving a stable climate system.

In the meeting, the Trustees told students that roughly 5% of Tufts’ endowment is invested in fossil fuels. They made it clear that divestment would be a “challenging and difficult” process crequiring serious financial consideration, but invited the students to meet with them again in two weeks.

tufts

“We appreciate the administration’s willingness to communicate with us and continue discussion,” said Anna Lello-Smith, a junior at Tufts who was among the group of four students that met with the Board. “At the same time, there is very little time left to combat the climate crisis. We hope the Board understands the urgency of the problem and acts with similar urgency themselves.”

Tufts Divest for Our Future began its fossil fuel divestment campaign last September, asking the university to divest from the top 200 oil, coal, and gas corporations that possess the majority of the world’s carbon reserves. After a semester of teach-ins and workshops, over 1,100 students and 185 alumni have signed petitions in support of divestment.

The Tufts campaign is part of a nationwide movement with over 200 other colleges and universities. The movement, supported by 350.org and other organizations such as Cambridge-based Better Future Project, won early victories last fall when Unity College and the City of Seattle announced intentions to divest.

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