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Harvard Students Stage Blockade to Demand An Open Conversation About Fossil Fuel Divestment

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Harvard's Divestment movement raises the ante for an administration unwilling to engage in open dialogue about its endowment's investments in fossil fuels.

 

Last week, Harvard students blockaded the main entrance to university president Drew Faust’s office, calling for fossil fuel divestment at America’s oldest university.

 

Harvard protestors are part of a global university movement with more than 400 campuses calling for school endowments to divest from the top-200 publicly traded oil, coal and natural gas companies.

 

According to the Boston Herald, graduate student Ben Franta, one of the protestors, explained, “Lots of students feel that Harvard investing in fossil fuel companies is not socially responsible, both for the damage fossil fuels cause through climate change and the political activities the industry engages in to block climate change legislation and to fund climate change misinformation.”

 

Efforts to convince the university’s governing body to divest began more than two years ago, protestors stated. Seventy-two percent of the student body has registered its opposition to investments in fossil fuel companies, while 119 faculty members wrote a letter to president Faust last month calling for divestment.

 

After protestors delivered a petition with over 60,000 signatures, President Faust released a statement stating that Harvard must "be very wary of steps intended to instrumentalize our endowment in ways that would appear to position the University as a political actor rather than an academic institution."  

 

Meanwhile, this week Stanford University has announced that its $18.7 billion endowment will not make any direct investment in coal companies, the twelfth and most well-known university to divest.

 

 

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