For Immediate Release
Harvard Undergraduate Arrested As Students Blockade the President's Office Calling for An Open Dialogue on Fossil Fuel Divestment
Cambridge, MA - Harvard junior Brett Roche was arrested early Thursday morning while participating in a seven-person blockade of Harvard University President Drew Faust’s office. The blockade was an attempt to win an open meeting with Harvard trustees to discuss fossil fuel divestment.
This was the first arrest for the growing fossil fuel divestment movement, which has spread to over 500 campuses, cities, and religious institutions across the globe.
“The administration of Harvard University would rather arrest their own students and have police force us out of the way than speak to us civilly about this important issue,” said Ted Hamilton, a first-year student at Harvard Law School who risked arrest in the blockade. Student have repeatedly requested a public meeting with President Faust and trustees about divestment, but they have refused thus far.
Six students began blockading the main entrance to President Faust’s office on Wednesday morning, forcing high-level administrators to enter through side doors. On Thursday morning the students, joined by Harvard alumnus Bob Massie and Harvard’s Quaker chaplain John Bach, moved to block all entrances to the building, prompting the arrest.
“Today I want to thank Divest Harvard for giving me the chance to be the person who I purport to be--a person who gives a damn,” said John Bach, Quaker chaplain at Harvard’s Memorial Church.
While the other blockaders were not arrested, the Harvard College Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde warned students on Wednesday that they will face disciplinary action from the administration.
Over 50,000 people have signed online petitions supporting Harvard students. Tomorrow, Divest Harvard and student, faculty and alumni supporters will deliver the petition signatures to the administration at 12:00pm at Massachusetts Hall in Harvard Yard.
For two years, students, faculty, and alumni with the Divest Harvard campaign have been calling on administrators to divest Harvard’s $31 billion endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. Over 100 faculty recently sent a letter to President Drew Faust urging her to support divestment.
350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.