Boston University Student Activists Protest Trump, BU Fossil Fuel Holdings

Printed from:


BOSTON — Days after Republican Donald Trump was sworn-in as president, about 30 student activists at Boston University walked out of class to rally against the incoming administration’s approach to climate change and to convince university trustees to divest all fossil fuel holdings from the school’s $1.6 billion endowment.

“This is a national day of action, there are thousands of students walking out all over the country in an active resistance to demand divestment from their administrations,” sophomore Masha Vernik, secretary of the activist group Divest BU, told students via a megaphone outside of the George Sherman Union student center. “As time goes on I know that this resistance might become a little more difficult, as a result of increased oppression from above or increased police militarization, but we can’t stop — we have to keep going.”

Senior Armina Petrescu-Tudor told New Boston Post that the walk-out is aimed at protesting “the climate-denying cabinet that the Trump administration has picked.”

Asked which aspect of the administration she feared most, Petrescu-Tudor said she is afraid of “all of the injustices that climate change creates — social injustices and problems for our future.”

Petrescu-Tudor also added that a previous statement issued by BU’s Board of Trustees in September is “not enough.”

The statement, issued following a series of protests, focused around committing to avoid investing in “coal and tar sand extractors” in the future.

“Their complacency is not good enough,” Petrescu-Tudor said, referring to BU’s administration. “They need to do more, especially given this political climate.”

Asked if she knew to what degree the school already possesses investments in fossil fuel companies, Petrescu-Tudor explained that the information is unavailable.

“They’re not transparent about it, so we don’t know which companies they are invested in,” she said.

A message left with the university’s media relations office requesting comment was not immediately returned.

At least one student questioned the rally. The student peppered activists with questions regarding what would happen to the university’s endowment should it complete a full divestment:

Meanwhile, Vernik told those participating in the rally that it “really took a lot of courage” for them to walk out of class.

“I know because I just did and my heart was beating really fast, it was kind of scary,” Vernik said.

Vernik also called on her fellow students to “not just picture the 40-50 people who are standing here” but to instead “envision the thousands of students who are doing this right now all over the country.”

Vernik said the rally marked the first day of a campaign demanding that BU President Robert A. Brown respond to the student activists’ petition.

“We’re going to lobby and show up at his door every day until February 23 — that’s our deadline — and demand a meeting with him, because we gave him a message and he did not respond to it,” Vernik said. “Your voice deserves to be heard, if he doesn’t respond to our demands, we are going to escalate.”

The activists next marched into and through the student cafeteria area, chanting, “Divest, divest, leave fossil fuels to rest!”

The Cambridge-based Better Future Project, an organization devoted to promoting fossil fuel divestment initiatives, noted that other schools including Harvard University and Northeastern University also featured rallies on Monday:

More from the scene at Boston University:

2017-01-23 BU Divest 07
2017-01-23 BU Divest 02
2017-01-23 BU Divest 05
2017-01-23 BU Divest 04
2017-01-23 BU Divest 06
2017-01-23 BU Divest 03
2017-01-23 BU Divest 09
2017-01-23 BU Divest 08
2017-01-23 BU Divest 10
Aperture: 5.6
Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T5
Iso: 1600