Three days ago, 33 Tufts students and alumni of Tufts Climate Action began a sit-in in President Monaco’s office.
After three years of campaigning, we are here to demand that Tufts divest its 80 million dollars in fossil fuels, an industry that will cause 100 million deaths worldwide by 2030 from climate devastation and pollution. These casualties are and will continue to be in predominantly low-income areas and communities of color that are already fighting for their lives.
For those who are just joining us: we are not sitting in because it’s fun. We are doing this because we have been left no other option for meaningful dialogue on divestment. We started this campaign back in September of 2012, and have attempted to work through every possible administrative channel. First, we showed popular support with a student referendum in which 74% of voters favored divestment. In tandem, the Tufts student senate passed a divestment resolution 24 to 1. We then tried contacting President Monaco and the Tufts Board of Trustees to discuss divestment, but we were met with closed doors, and unanswered emails and phone calls. After continuing this pressure, President Monaco finally established a working group to “examine divestment”. But the administration set this committee up to fail. They staffed it with financial advisers whose inflexible, profit-over-everything investment plan refuses to weigh moral costs of fossil fuel investments. They did not allow us to bring in unbiased financial experts, nor did they allow us to make public the findings of the committee. Instead of honestly investigating the feasibility of divestment, the administrators on the Investment Committee went into the process trying to disprove divestment from the beginning and set up their findings to do just that.
So here we sit, a year later, in President Monaco’s office, refusing to let the administration stonewall us yet again. By investing in fossil fuels, Tufts continues to profit from the exploitation and devastation of the people who did the least to cause the climate crisis — mostly low-income communities of color around the world, who are already struggling for survival. As the climate crisis worsens each day, whose side will Tufts be on? That of the fossil fuel industry, or that of climate justice and the renewable energy future that we need? We vote with our 1.6 billion dollar endowment . We cannot claim to stand for global “active citizenship” with one hand, while profiting off global climate chaos with the other.
We know we are on the right side of history, and that Board Chairman Peter Dolan, President Monaco and the Tufts administration can never justify profiting off of climate injustice. Yet, instead of facing the realities of their immoral investments, the administration is refusing our ask for a public dialogue with Chairman Peter Dolan and the Board, and our request to continue negotiations on divestment. President Monaco has refused to come back to his own office and meet with us, despite being on campus. Our administration has told us that if we are to have any form of communication with the Board, it won’t happen until next semester; yet every day that goes by, the urgency and suffering caused by climate change increases. They told us yesterday they would not be allowing any food into the building. The administration’s response to students who are simply asking for an endowment that doesn’t destroy communities, our future and our planet, is unjustified and shameful.
Tufts has said it “will not divest at this time.” If not now, then when? How many extreme weather events and deaths that we are endorsing with our investments will it take for us to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry? Divestment can be done - we know dozens of other institutions and corporations that have commingled endowment funds similar to Tufts that have begun the process of divestment, such as University of Syracuse, the city of Seattle, the University of Maine system, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Meanwhile, the one million dollar Sustainability Fund that Tufts set up last year to appease us is a meager 0.05% of our endowment. In short, Tufts is not doing what it has the power and responsibility to do to address the greatest threat our world has ever faced.
That is why we are sitting in President Monaco’s office, refusing to leave until our food runs out and we are forced to go. We invite all those who share our wonderful city of Boston, along with those across the world, to join this growing movement. Join us in solidarity with those resisting at the front-lines of climate injustice and help make sure that Tufts ends up on the right side of history.
We will continue this fight, only growing stronger, to demand divestment of our school, and that Tufts lives up to its values and stops actively supporting the devastation of the earth and its inhabitants.