Fossil Free WashU disrupts alumni event, demands divestment
Fossil Free WashU disrupted an alumni banquet in Bauer Hall to pressure Washington University to divest their endowment from the use of fossil fuels Friday.
Protesters asked alumni to withhold donations from the University until the University divests from fossil fuels.
“By choosing to invest in fossil fuel companies, Wash. U. is siding with those who are destroying our planet and shows blatant disregard for human lives,” freshman Jared Moxley said.
The protesters rallied for approximately 10 minutes before the Washington University Police Department (WUPD) was called and members were asked to leave. According to Fossil Free WashU Director of Communications Eddie Ives, around 50 protesters attended the rally, which they also livestreamed on Facebook.
Ives said that the group was satisfied with the support they received from the student body and the email from Student Union sent out the same day urging students to sign Fossil Free WashU’s divestment petition.
“We were thrilled with the large turnout,” Ives said. “We were asked to leave eventually, which is what we planned for, but we had time to make our speech, have our demands heard and then to leave. We were very pleased.”
According to Ives, the University’s lack of engagement and communication regarding fossil fuels remains a major point of frustration for the organization.
“When they deny climate change and the effects of it on us, it really doesn’t align with the mission of the University, the teaching that the University does and the research that we always see and do,” Ives said. “To see this totally unaligned message, and to see that people who are in power and vote about the issues that affect us don’t even understand how climate change affects us, is pretty worrying. That’s what we are really energized by and what adds urgency to what we’re doing.”
Junior Khalid Mahmood, one of the leaders of Fossil Free WashU, said that the group is looking forward to continuing its work and relationship with Chancellor-elect Martin in the next year.
“He’s shown a lot of promising signs. I believe he was instrumental in the latest solar installation, which I think shows that he’s thinking about things from the right angle,” Mahmood said. “He also said that we have a moral obligation to go need-blind. We’re hoping that he sees a similar moral obligation with divestment.”
As for the rest of the school year, Fossil Free WashU has another rally “Stand Against Climate Denial” planned for April 17. Overall, Mahmood urges the University to take action toward divestment and address Harry Siegle’s response letter to the organization.
“Harry Siegle is part of a board of trustees that makes huge decisions behind closed doors, and doesn’t answer to or really represent students,” Mahmood said. “We think that it is a problem that a member of the most powerful decision-making body at our University doesn’t believe in the facts and is aligned along a different set of facts than reality. We think that the University needs to respond to this, because this is a problem that one of our trustees is denying science at a top 20, prestigious institution.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori S. White did not respond to comment request.