Harvard Students Shut Down University Hall

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/03/30/harvard-students-shut-down-university-hall/

CAMBRIDGE – Members of Divest Harvard staged a sit-in yesterday outside of a key administrative building on Harvard’s campus, effectively shutting down the building and preventing several top administrators from entering their offices for the day.

The protest lasted until the end of the business day, when a crowd of approximately twenty students, along with some faculty and alumni, gathered outside the building for a closing rally.

Students and local activists took turns ascending the building steps to urge Harvard to divest from fossil fuels and coal. “Harvard should not be making money off of coal,” affirmed Alyssa Lee of the Better Future Project as students cheered.

Harvard currently has no money in the coal industry; however, group members are pushing for the university to swear off all future investments in coal. They claim that there is precedence for such an action as in 2005 Harvard divested from a single petroleum company, PetroChina, that had ties to the Sudanese government during the genocide in Darfur.

A spokesman for the university released a statement saying” We agree that climate change is one of the world’s most urgent and serious issues, but we respectfully disagree with Divest Harvard on the means by which a university should confront it.”

The statement went on to argue that Harvard can more effectively combat climate change by using the money from its endowment for ground-breaking research rather than by divesting, which would shrink the $35.7 billion endowment.

The students of Divest Harvard remain unconvinced.

“What do we want?” Isa Flores-Jones, a sophomore member of the group screamed into the megaphone at yesterday’s rally. “Justice!” the crowd shouted back.

“We can’t eat privilege. We can’t drink privilege. We can’t breathe privilege,” called out another student, decrying the colonization effects of fossil fuels.

Another member of the group who took a turn with the megaphone compared Harvard’s current investments in fossil fuel to the university’s investments in South African companies during apartheid.

She enjoined the university to take a stand for human dignity, as when they instituted a living wage for campus employees in 2001.

When asked how the group managed to block administrators from entering their offices on campus without repercussions, Flores-Jones smiled ruefully. “We’re really not allowed to do that,” she told New Boston Post, then added. “But we got here at 5 a.m. in front of the doors, so there wasn’t much they could do about it. Harvard doesn’t like confrontation.”