Divestment Protest Expands at Harvard, Students Block Entrances to University Hall, Alumni Occupy More Offices

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jamie Henn, jamie@350.org, 415-890-3350

Divestment Protest Expands at Harvard, Students Block Entrances to University Hall, Alumni Occupy More Offices

Photo and video opportunities of student protestors and potential arrests

WASHINGTON - Media opportunities on Tuesday:

Interview students sitting-in at University Hall and Massachusetts Hall in Harvard Yard

Time: 8:00am to 10:00am

Location: Massachusetts Hall, Harvard Yard, Cambridge

Interview Bill McKibben and alumni occupying Alumni Affairs offices.

Time: 8:45am to 9:00am

Location: 124 Mt. Auburn Street 6th Floor, Cambridge.

Labor and Social Justice Themed Divestment Rally

Time: 10:00am to 12:00pm

Location: Harvard Yard, Cambridge

Cambridge, MA -- The fight for fossil fuel divestment is heating up at Harvard this week. On Tuesday morning, students expanded their sit-in, blocking all six entrances of University Hall, while maintaining the currently blockaded three doors of Massachusetts Hall.

Across the square, a group of alumni are still camped out in the Harvard Alumni Association, pushing for a meeting with university representatives. Over fifty alumni tried to meet with Alumni Affairs yesterday afternoon. When the office ignored their requests, nine alumni, including 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, decided to spend the night inside the locked offices (with a number of Harvard University Police Department officers as their accompaniment). At 9:00pm, they released a letter requesting a meeting with the executive director’s of the Harvard Alumni Association and the Harvard Fund.

“We’re spending the night in the hopes that you will be willing to meet with us in the morning. We know that many other alumni are trying to join us, indeed two are locked out in the hallway right now by a (very professional) police presence,” the alumni wrote. “They feel as we do: that if it’s wrong to wreck the planet then it’s wrong for Harvard to profit from that wreckage. And that the Harvard students who have been the brave leaders in the divestment fight so far deserve the support of us Harvard graduates.”

Media coverage and online traffic for the “Harvard Heat Week” protests grew throughout the day on Monday, with the Boston Globe, Bloomberg, NPR, the Guardian, and others picking up the story.

Harvard continued to feel the heat in an afternoon forum at Sanders Theater that the university organized in response to the protests, intending to distract from divestment and highlight other climate accomplishments. The forum, hosted by talk show host Charlie Rose, did not feature any students or alumni involved in the Heat Week protests, but did include Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, a historian who has studied the corrosive influence of the fossil fuel industry and is an active proponent of divestment.

“I don’t see how we can have the conversation here and still be investing in fossil fuel companies,” said Oreskes, to boisterous applause from a largely pro-divestment crowd (a poll put 72% of Harvard students in favor of the move). “The fossil fuel industry has worked for twenty years to undermine the work this University has done on climate change. That crosses a line….We are engaged in something deeply problematic and we have to find a way to separate ourselves from that.”

Students, alumni, and supporters are planning to continue their sit-in at Massachusetts Hall for the rest of the week. A solidarity rally will take place each morning at 10:00 am, and a candlelit vigil each evening at 8:00pm. Hundreds are expected to join a closing rally in front of Harvard’s science center at 6:00pm on Friday evening.

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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.

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