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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Harvard Students Blockade President’s Office Building in Effort to Win Public Meeting on Fossil Fuel Divestment


Contact: Ben Franta,, (319) 899-9820

After two-year campaign, student activists escalate tactics as Harvard administration continues refusing to engage in open, transparent dialogue

CAMBRIDGE--On Wednesday morning, six student activists with the Divest Harvard campaign began a blockade of the main entrance to Harvard University President Drew Faust’s office in Harvard Yard. The students are calling for an open meeting about fossil fuel divestment with the Harvard Corporation after having been denied a public meeting with the administration since Fall 2013.

The Divest Harvard campaign, supported by and Better Future Project, is part of a global movement with over 400 campuses calling for endowments to divest from the top 200 publicly traded oil, coal, and gas companies that own the majority of the world’s carbon reserves. The fossil fuel divestment movements aims to stigmatize and decrease the influence of fossil fuel companies responsible for the climate crisis, thereby opening the door for political action.

A broad swath of the Harvard community has been calling for fossil fuel divestment for over two years, including a 72% vote of support during student government elections and the recent publication of a strongly-worded letter from over 100 faculty. However, the administration has repeatedly refused requests for open debate on divestment, holding meetings with trustees behind closed doors and making public statements that dismiss student concerns about the dangerous political influence of fossil fuel corporations.

“The University’s failure to respond to demands for an open discussion of its investments in fossil fuels shows a lack of respect for student opinion,” said Brett Roche, undergraduate and blockade participant. “If a Harvard education is truly meant to liberate students to challenge and to lead, then the administration should be ready to engage with students organizing for institutional change”.

In front of the blockaded entrance to the administrative offices in Massachusetts Hall, the students are hosting a day of action, featuring music and speeches by alumni, faculty, student social justice groups, and prominent climate activists. Passers-by in Harvard Yard that day will be able to make T-shirts and write notes to President Faust and members of the Harvard Corporation about why they support fossil fuel divestment.

“We want to get President Faust’s attention”, said Sidni Frederick, undergraduate and Divest Harvard member. “It’s important for the University’s leadership to know that the student body can’t wait any longer for them to begin a real dialogue about why they aren’t taking bolder steps in solving the climate crisis, a problem that threatens all of our futures”.

Daily schedule

10:00 am: KICK OFF RALLY! Divest Day of Action Begins. Featuring Soha Bayoumi, Bob Massie, Leland Cheung, and Tim DeChristopher.
11:00 am: Faculty Press Conference: Faculty members will be speaking to the media about why they support the divestment movement.
12:00 pm: Faculty and Alumni Rally: Come hear your professors and graduates of the university speak about why divestment from fossil fuels can’t wait. Featuring Wen Stephenson, Shoshana Zuboff, and Fred Small.
3:00 pm: Campus Justice Rally: What challenges do student activists face on campus? How can we make Harvard a more just institution? An open and invigorating discussion about student organizing.
6:00 pm: Community Rally: Climate change affects everybody, but it affects some more than others. Community leaders will share what the divestment movement means for their neighbors, their struggles, and their future.
9:00 pm: Skype-in / Movie Time: Hear from divestment and climate activists beyond Boston, and join us for a green movie screening. Featuring Josh Fox and Eric Grunebaum.
ALL DAY: Arts and crafts, music, and more: paint banners, write letters, have your picture taken, and share your passion.

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