Next Phase for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement? Escalation
Students for fossil fuel divestment push the question to college administrators, ‘Whose side are you on?’
‘Until our so-called ‘leaders’ join us in this effort… we will disregard business-as-usual just as business-as-usual has disregarded us.’
This spring, our college administrators face a choice. They will have to pick a side.
It is a choice that has been a long time coming. Ever since the fossil fuel divestment movement ignited across campuses internationally two years ago, our university leaders have been bending over backwards to accommodate the contorted logic of an extractive economy.
Whether they are trustees who ask Harvard students to ‘thank BP,’ or presidents who believe that turning off light bulbs can help solve climate change, administrators have revealed themselves to be out of touch with reality. Presumably in the fantasy world of college boardrooms, the fossil fuel industry neither poisons hometowns nor receives $88 billion in corporate welfare a year. Yet back on planet Earth, students know that university endowments gamble away our futures with investments that undermine everything higher education stands for. At this crucial juncture in history, to value critical thinking and academic credibility is to value climate justice.
That is why this spring, we will ask our administrators, ‘Whose side are you on?’
The choice is stark enough to break through the cognitive dissonance preventing our leaders from acting. By fighting for divestment, students have proven that we will no longer be held hostage by an industry that insists on digging us deeper into its oil wells under the pretense of necessity. There is nothing necessary about tar sands. There is nothing necessary about investments which threaten the future generations that endowments are invested for.
— Common Dreams