Over 100 students and Yale affiliates rallied in support of fossil fuel divestment outside Sterling Memorial Library on Sunday.
The action was organized by Fossil Free Yale in response to the November election of Donald Trump, which has sparked widespread fears among climate activists about the future of U.S. environmental policy. FFY argued Sunday that the U.S. government can no longer be relied upon to ensure a livable planet and called on Yale to take action to reduce climate change by divesting from fossil fuels.
Attendees gathered on Cross Campus at 2:30 p.m. and took turns giving speeches before marching to Woodbridge Hall at 3 p.m. Students gathered around a 10-foot-long mural depicting a vision of a better world that FFY painted earlier this fall. The march was a symbol of student pressure on the University, according to FFY organizer Chelsea Watson ’17.
“This moment that we are in is incredibly high-stakes,” said FFY member Tristan Glowa ’19.
Glowa said he was worried by Trump’s apparent support for the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, Trump’s skepticism of climate change and his desire to disrespect the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Glowa said people across the world are already suffering from climate change as costal areas crumble into the sea and food resources disappear.
He added that Trump’s election alongside a Republican-dominated Congress poses an “immediate danger” to those who feel already threatened by Trump’s rhetoric of xenophobia, racism, homophobia and misogyny.
The Dakota Access Pipeline and the importance of tribal sovereignty were also discussed Sunday by Katie McCleary ’18, a member of the Native American Cultural Center, who during the rally called for the end of the oppression of Native American people for corporate gain.
Construction on DAPL was halted Sunday evening by the Army, who refused to approve a land easement which would allow the pipeline to proceed, The Washington Post reported.
After the news broke, McCleary told the News that the halting of the pipeline represented “a win for not only Standing Rock but all indigenous peoples.”
“The water protectors braved attacks by military police and media silence to show the United States federal government that indigenous peoples must always be included in conversations about economic development and energy independence,” she said. “There is still work to be done but we’ve sent a strong message to the world that we are still here.”
At the FFY rally, member Emma Phelps ’19 spoke about the importance of Yale reinvesting its endowment in a way that revitalizes industrial communities which currently rely on fossil fuel extraction so that divestment does not leave those communities behind. Phelps, who comes from Nottinghamshire, England, said her community never recovered economically after its coal mines shut down in the 1980s.
Phelps cited Duke University’s $5 million investment in the Latino Community Credit Union as an example of responsible reinvestment.
FFY member Cassandra Darrow ’18 said that divestment has impact not only by materially harming fossil fuel companies but also because it sends a symbolic message to other institutions that look up to Yale.
“We know that if we are not here fighting we will not have a livable future,” she said. “We are here because so many people do not have a livable present.”
The current governor of North Dakota is Jack Dalrymple ’70.