On Tuesday, September 17th, President Michael Roth ’78 sent out a campus-wide email announcing Friday’s Climate Strike. He also announced Wesleyan’s new (?) investment policy. (Read it after the break.)
(Image: Catherine Avalone, The Middletown Press)
You’ve now arrived on campus, and we hope that you find your time here enriching and transformative. In that hope, we feel that it would be ill-advised to allow you to not have at least a foundational understanding of the things that have forced us as a community into dialogue, disagreement, and action.
This is not to scare you or to give you a negative impression of the University. However, we are certain that most if not all of you were told about the “passion” that Wesleyan students have and the issues that we care about on campus are at the forefront of those passions. While there is certainly no requirement to take an activist stance on any of these issues and it is in fact easy to sink beneath the radar on these issues and all the others not covered here, we would plead with you to be engaged in the community that you are now a part of.
Read this, ask questions, and reach out to students and faculty that have been here before you. We hope that as you begin your time here, you fully invest yourself as a community member committed to making Wesleyan as good as it can be for you and for those after you. Caring about Wesleyan does not foreclose critique on Wesleyan and as you read this, and other things like it, we hope you understand that too.
Abby Cunniff ’17 is at it again.
****HEY PREFROSH!****(this is for you)
Are you concerned about the climate crisis? About communities affected
by the climate crisis or fossil fuel extraction? About the ecological
impacts of the climate crisis?
Come talk to the crazy passionate folk of Wes, Divest! in the Westco
courtyard on thursday at 3:30pm!
When: Thursday, April 17th. 3:30-5
Where: West College Courtyard
WHAT IS THIS?
When the Board of Trustees came last semester, we made a display in front of Usdan with photos of 160 students holding reasons of why Wes should divest. The Board is coming again this semester, and on Friday at 11:50am, we are recreating our action from last semester, but with real people holding signs explaining why they want Wes to divest.
WHY SHOULD I SHOW UP?
Your attendance is the most powerful way to show your support for Wesleyan’s divestment from fossil fuels. We need student support to let administration know that they can’t wait us out, that we aren’t relenting, and most importantly, that Wesleyan students will NOT be complacent when the destruction of frontline communities, and ultimately our planet, is at stake.
wait, what the heck is wes, divest? go here
When: Friday, February 28th
Time: 11:50 am
Where: Walkway between Usdan and Albritton, in front of North College
“The facts are there, the arguments are solid, and with enough research, we think it’s absolutely clear that this could be a good choice for our university.” – Maya McDonnell ’16
Unless you live under a rock, which, given the advent of chilly New England weather, better be heated, you’ve likely seen groups of concerned students hang hand-drawn banners from almost every high up place in Usdan.
Although they vary in shape, size, and semi-hieroglyphic language, these banners have the same message: Wesleyan needs to step up to the plate and divest from fossil fuels.
Divestment movements are nothing new at Wesleyan. Among the most notable campaigns were the calls to divest from South African companies in the midst of apartheid during the 1970s and 80s. (Our courageous leader, Michael Roth ’78, occupied former President Campbell’s office in support of the South African divestment movement in 1979.) More recently, Students for Ending the War in Iraq (SEWI) demanded divestment from defense companies in light of then-current Iraq War in 2007.
Wes, Divest! started as a rag-tag group of concerned students late last February as divestment movements nationwide began to pick up steam. Co-founder Angus McLean ’16 was surprised that Wesleyan, “the school you would expect to be at the forefront of this movement,” didn’t already have a group devoted to fossil fuel divestment.
McLean mentions that their initial goals included a “direct freeze on new investments and divestment within five years from… funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.” The group stands by these goals and plans to continue to “work with the administration to figure out the best way for Wesleyan to divest.”
With the arrival of a new school year, the group took on a more concerted effort, setting up a social media campaign and assembling those infamous banners. Bolstered by passionate freshmen, who make up over 60% of the group, and the creation of Fossil Free, a website that links nationwide divestment movements together, Wes, Divest! has gained great momentum on campus.
“For almost 40 years I have been so proud of Wesleyan students and alumni. But I am not seeing the level of activism that is necessary for this existential fight.”
Several weeks ago, members of a student group calling themselves Wes, Divest! put together a petition calling on President Roth and the Board of Trustees to divest from fossil fuels. The petition has since amassed more than 250 signatures, many with accompanying messages of support. President Roth hasn’t yet publicly responded. When asked about the possibility of divestment at a WSA meeting in March, he suggested that it was highly unlikely—and argued that Wesleyan’s endowment shouldn’t be a “vehicle for social change.”
As the push for divestment first starts to heat up at Wesleyan (as it already has at Tufts, Amherst, and much of the ‘Cac), we’re presenting a guest perspective by Lauren Steiner ’79, an environmental activist and Wes alum who urges all Wesleyan students to take up the fight now, before it’s too late:
“Plant trees, create recycled art, tour a chestnut orchard, work on an organic garden and much more during Earth Month at Wesleyan!” So reads the first sentence of an article in the latest edition of The Wesleyan Connection emailed to me in April. As an environmental activist who attended the first Earth Day celebration 33 years ago at age 12 and who planned an LA solidarity rally to the D.C. Forward on Climate Rally this past February, I found this quite dismaying. When I was at Wesleyan between 1975 and 1979, when we hadn’t even heard of climate change, we were actively protesting threats to the environment and human health. In 1976 and 1977, activists from Wesleyan joined the Clamshell Alliance protesting the construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. Where is that activism now when environmental threats are so much worse?
Classless prefrosh dad of the year: “I’m going to get security if you don’t shut the hell up.”
As the debate over fossil fuel investments continues raging in the NESCAC blogosphere, members of a Tufts student group calling itself Tufts Divest For Our Future infiltrated an admissions information session last week to ask about the University’s investments. Not quite as epic as sending a fake press release to over 150 national and local media outlets claiming the University is formally divesting from the war and fossil fuels industries, but whatever—it’ll do.
In The ‘Cac managed to obtain video footage of the incident, which appears below. Curiously, the most hostile party caught on tape is not the questioner, who politely but insistently inquires, nor the admissions officer (or student?) leading the session, who suggests that they discuss the subject after the session. It’s the disgruntled prefrosh dad who swings into action with some seriously misguided hero fantasies, growling, “We came here to learn about the University. Stop wasting our time! I’m going to get security if you don’t shut the hell up.” Can’t imagine how mortified his kid must’ve been, sinking into hir chair like Harry Potter wearing the Sorting Hat. “Daaaaad. You’re embarrassing me in front of the other prefrosh!”