Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Divest to continue campaign of action on Tuesday

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(Daniel Maldonado/Daily Collegian)

(Daniel Maldonado/Daily Collegian)

After a week which saw daily sit-ins held in the Whitmore Administration Building and 34 Five College students arrested for trespassing after the building closed, the University of Massachusetts Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign is planning to continue their protest on Tuesday.

UMass Police Department officers arrested 15 students Tuesday and an additional 19 on Wednesday for trespassing after protesters refused to leave Whitmore after closing time. Divest UMass did not have any students arrested on Thursday and Friday, although the sit-ins continued.

After all demonstrators left Whitmore on Friday, UMass Divest organizer Sarah Jacqz told supporters that the campaign would continue into the next week, although she implied that the occupation of Whitmore might not continue.

“We might not keep sitting in that building, but we’re gonna keep this escalation going,” Jacqz, a sophomore BDIC major, said.

UMass Divest is demanding that the UMass Foundation, which oversees the University system’s endowments, cancel their investments in the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies.

UMass News and Media Relations Director Ed Blaguszewski released a statement last week saying that UMass system President Martin Meehan and UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Victor Woolridge support the campaign’s goals and will advocate for them to the Board of Trustees. However, UMass Divest is seeking an immediate commitment to act on their demands and expressed dissatisfaction with the pledge of President Meehan and Chairman Woolridge.

“They told us maybe we’ll get you what you want,” senior Kristie Herman, a Divest UMass organizer who studies psychology, told supporters after Whitmore closed on Friday. “But we don’t have any more time.”

Earlier in the day, Herman said that UMass Divest had created a five-year plan for the University to divest from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies, and that the campaign was not demanding the UMass Foundation to divest all of their investments immediately.

Herman emphasized that, given the length of time necessary for the plan to be implemented, it is important that the steps to totally divest are taken as quickly as possible.

“We understand that it is a long process,” Herman said. “We need this plan to be put in now because we are outlining a five year process.”

In December, the UMass Foundation announced it was divesting from coal companies. UMass Divest now hopes that the Foundation will continue the process of divestment by agreeing to divest from the remaining fossil fuel companies, which profit from oil and natural gas.

Herman said that the UMass Foundation has roughly $5 million invested directly into fossil fuel companies, although she said that the figure is not exact.

“That number is gleamed through public information, that’s not public information,” Herman said.

Since UMass Divest began to occupy Whitmore last Monday, the campaign has been endorsed by political figures such as State Representative Marjorie Decker, Massachusetts State Senators Benjamin Downing and Jamie Eldridge and Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein.

The campaign has also been endorsed by various departments within UMass, such as the Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, the Social Thought and Political Economy Program and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“This is the largest civil disobedience our generation has seen at this University,” Herman said on Friday. “They are not making the decision, we are.”

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

1 Comment

One Response to “UMass Divest to continue campaign of action on Tuesday”

  1. Jimmy Rustles on April 19th, 2016 11:00 pm

    “This is the largest civil disobedience we have seen”

    For nothing – idiots.

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