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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Over 100 MIT nerds-turned-activists rally and march for fossil fuel divestment and climate action as MIT Board of Trustees - including David Koch - meet on campus

Credit: Ploy Achakulwisut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2, 2015. Contact: Geoffrey Supran (+1) 617-899-8482,

Over 100 MIT nerds-turned-activists rally and march for fossil fuel divestment and climate action 
as MIT Board of Trustees - including David Koch - meets on campus
Cambridge, MAToday, more than 100 MIT students, staff, faculty, alumni, and local community members rallied in the heart of campus in support of an MIT climate action plan, including divestment of the Institute’s $13.5 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies and climate-denying corporations. The activists then marched across campus, where, across from the building in which MIT’s Board of Trustees - among them David Koch - convened for their annual meeting, they dropped a banner reading “Stand with Science. Take Climate Action.”

The rally follows recommendations by the MIT President’s own committee to divest from coal, tar sands, and climate-denying corporations, and comes on the eve of the President’s promised decision on how the Institute will act against climate change.

Speaking at the rally, MIT PhD student and divestment advocate Geoffrey Supran highlighted MIT’s closing window of opportunity: “MIT’s moment of decision is now. Right now, a few blocks from here, our President and our Board gather. And as they meet, we gather here united behind bold multi-faceted MIT climate action. We gather here united to call on our president to divest from fossil fuels, to reinvest in sustainability, and to reinvent MIT’s approach to climate action, research and education.”

“Scientist for climate action,” “Divest for our future,” and “MIT for climate justice” were just three of the messages brandished on signs carried by marchers. In full view of the building where MIT’s Board was meeting, a banner was dropped from a student dorm just as marchers congregated, cheering at the top of their lungs in the hope that their leaders would hear their calls for action.

But with MIT more dependent on industry funding than almost any other university in the country, student organizers say “the climate question is far from a done deal.”

Wielding a sign reading “MIT Faculty for Climate Action,” MIT Professor Ian Condry said at the rally, “My concern is that when the announcement happens, it won’t be enough, and that it will be the beginning of the next stage of our fight, not the end.” Yet, he encouraged, “If we can build our social network...and build the movement from below, then eventually it becomes impossible to ignore.”

The rally is the closing action of a week-long series of events called MIT Climate Countdown, organized by student activists. These events brought together dozens of climate and sustainability focused student groups on campus, but also alumni, faculty and staff working in these areas.

Two weeks ago, climatologist James Hansen, actor Mark Ruffalo, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund president Stephen Heintz were among 33 prominent signatories to an open letter urging MIT divestment. This followed 3,400 MIT petition signers, open letters from 89 MIT faculty members and 29 student groups, and a resolution of Cambridge City Council.

Credit: Patrick Brown

Credit: Patrick Brown

Credit: Patrick Brown
Credit: Patrick Brown

Credit: Emily Kellison-Linn

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