Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMPD arrests 15 students in connection with UMass Divest sit-in

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(Daily Collegian/Katherine Mayo)

(Daily Collegian/Katherine Mayo)

Fifteen University of Massachusetts students were arrested at Whitmore Administration Building Tuesday night following the second day-long sit-in protest by the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign against the University’s investments in the fossil fuel industry.

Student protesters continued their occupation of Whitmore after it was closed for business despite a pledge of advocacy for divestment from fossil fuels by Victor Woolridge, chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, and UMass President Marty Meehan, according to a press release sent by the UMass News and Media Relations Director Ed Blaguszewski.

Woolridge’s pledge for advocacy did not meet the event’s demand of a statement by the Board of Trustees fully committing to divestment from fossil fuel companies.

Students continued to occupy the Whitmore Building until 9:30 p.m. The 15 people arrested stayed behind after many more students willingly left around 8:20 p.m., long after the building closed at 5 p.m., and following hours of negotiation between members of the campaign and UMass administrators.

The arrests followed several warnings by the UMass Police Department that the students would be arrested if they did not voluntarily leave the building, according to the release.

The students stayed because the University Board of Trustees is escalating the situation by not committing to divestment, said Filipe Carvalho, a campaign spokesperson for UMass Divest and director of the Center for Economic Policy Advocacy.

“We escalated like we said we would,” said Carvalho, who spoke at the UMass Divest rally on Monday from 12-1 p.m. in front of the Student Union. “They didn’t give us what we wanted.”

More than 100 supporters of the UMass Divest campaign gathered outside of Whitmore as UMPD officers gradually led the arrested students out of the building.

The students outside shouted chants like, “I believe that we will win,” “The people united will never be defeated” and “Can you tell us, Chairman Woolridge, whose side are you on?”

Carvalho said UMass Divest would return on Wednesday to support divestment, and a rally outside of Whitmore is planned for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Throughout Tuesday, more than 120 quiet protesters sat in the halls of Whitmore outside of the Chancellor’s Office, filling the sides of the hallways.

The people arrested for trespassing in Whitmore will be arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown Wednesday.

The Student Government Association voted to support UMass Divest on Monday.

UMPD declined to comment Tuesday night.

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

13 Comments

13 Responses to “UMPD arrests 15 students in connection with UMass Divest sit-in”

  1. Justin on April 13th, 2016 9:21 am

    The trustees “escalated the situation” by not capitulating to the uncompromising demands of protesters? Umm… what?

  2. Captain Planet on April 13th, 2016 11:29 am

    You did it. You saved the planet. Thanks for taking one for the team.

  3. Christian on April 13th, 2016 12:20 pm

    @Justin Advocating for divestment and actually divesting are two different things, especially with this administration

  4. Timmy on April 13th, 2016 12:35 pm

    When will activists fight with activism instead of this bullshit? Western mass never fails to disappoint lol

  5. SGA Alum on April 13th, 2016 3:36 pm

    I’m glad the students are working to divest using all available avenues. When the administration refused to talk, additional pressure was needed. Divesting is an important step towards a carbon free future.

  6. Spartacus on April 13th, 2016 7:53 pm

    Its a good thing UMass wasted money on police to not perform an entirely symbolic act of divesting that would probably have only a negative impact on the school’s financials. /s

    I don’t have a problem with divestment in general because I don’t think that fossil fuel related investments perform significantly better than non-fossil fuel related stocks but removing all UMass funds from comingled mutual funds could cost the school penalties that I’d rather not be pushed onto either the students, the tax payers, or the tax paying students! Demand divestment if you want, divest if you want, but don’t expect it to happen overnight nor because of these protests and sit-ins. To me this protest and the arrests are a waste of time and resources for both the students and University when it comes down to late night sit-ins where police are called.

  7. The_Chairman on April 13th, 2016 9:50 pm

    @Spartacus You are absolutely right that it will cost us money. The problem is that argument is irrelevant.

    If a major institution such as the state university doesn’t do anything, then we are basically telling the rest of the population not to worry about it. That’s nothing less than a death sentence for the future poor of the world, and a guarantee that our grandchildren will be condemned to some miserable existence.

    Nothing is going to change unless the people demand it, and these kids were very brave to sacrifice their own personal interests to do so. I certainly couldn’t say the same.

  8. Dr. Ed Cutting on April 14th, 2016 12:03 am

    I see that UMass has YET to enforce the picketing code.
    .
    My issue isn’t the content of the students’ speech, or even their civil disobedience, but the university’s selective enforcement of the rules.
    .
    Have a loud party in your own off-campus — your legal abode — and you get arrested, actually tossed into a cell, fined $300, and have to worry about being expelled from school. Yet, you can spend 3 1/2 hours defying police orders to leave a building that closes at 6PM and that’s somehow OK.
    .
    No,it isn’t.
    .

  9. The_Chairman on April 14th, 2016 11:46 am

    Comparing protesting for action that could save our species from possible extinction to partying is utterly laughable

  10. Spartacus on April 14th, 2016 9:03 pm

    @The_Chairman

    I respectfully disagree that UMass “doesn’t do anything” when it comes to concerns over energy use and climate change. For years now there has been a commitment from the students, professors, and yes even the administrators to transition to a more environmentally aware standard which is why so much of new construction includes renewable components, lower energy use fixtures, and often comes equipped with solar panels (even though I think most would argue one windmill next to the library would probably power half the state). The university system obviously has its eye on the future as much as any other organization and fossil fuel companies are not going to be as profitable in 5 to 10 years as they are today, divestment will occur as well as investment in renewable energy whether or not these protests continue because it is the logical thing to do even from a purely economic standpoint. I think there is a bit of willful ignorance or pride to believe that UMass divestment of our current mutual funds is even the beginning to a plan on how to fight climate change but I do understand the draw that many feel to be part of a movement that they believe has the moral case on their side and why these beliefs would compel one to protest day and night and get arrested for the cause. I also do think that Ed is correct in that the university does have a habit of selectively applying its rules to different groups, protesting during class hours is strictly limited to the west side of the student union from noon to 1PM by the university’s code. If they wish to change or remove that I am all for it but by having rules that we selectively apply is discriminatory whether or not we believe a cause is more just or worthy.

  11. JB on April 16th, 2016 11:25 am

    @The_Chairman, you completely missed the point of that comparison. You’re arguing against points that no one is making, which is “utterly laughable”.

  12. The_Chairman on April 16th, 2016 1:02 pm

    “I respectfully disagree that UMass “doesn’t do anything” when it comes to concerns over energy use and climate change. For years now there has been a commitment from the students, professors, and yes even the administrators to transition to a more environmentally aware standard…”

    That’s great. The thing is, that is not an altruistic action. Adhering to such standards saves money in the long term from reduced energy use. The benefit to the environment is merely a positive externality and certainly not the main reason for these projects.

    Divestment, on the other hand, sends a clear message to the world precisely because it is not in our interest. If the society doesn’t do anything, then Exxon Mobil and the others will continue to wreck the world and make a lot of money doing it. At the moment they aren’t doing so well, but that has more to do with weak global demand. Oil prices will likely shoot back up during the next economic expansion, and at that point divesting for “economic” reasons won’t look so attractive.

  13. Ed Cutting, Ed. D. on April 21st, 2016 5:04 am

    “Comparing protesting for action that could save our species from possible extinction to partying is utterly laughable.”
    .
    Ummm
    .
    The principle of freedom of speech (and religion) is that the government can make no distinctions regarding the merits of the speech (or the religious beliefs). As UMass is a public university, everything it does inherently is being done by the government.
    .
    Speech in opposition to fossil fuel use is no more or less protected than speech at a party — remember that there is no requirement that the speech be coherent let alone be of any redeeming social value, and there’s a reason for that — Would you want the government deciding what should be censored???
    .
    Do you want UMass telling you what you are & aren’t allowed to say?
    .
    It’s called “content neutrality” — this is a “free country”, if another group of students want to proclaim that the Moon is made of Blue Cheese, they have the right to do so, and that protects your right to proclaim your message. And hence it really doesn’t matter what the message is — all UMass can do is regulate speech in terms of noise & disruption, not content.
    .
    In other words, you can’t shout ANYTHING out a SW tower window at 4AM — but were UMass to permit you to do so, it would have to permit everyone else to do so as well.

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