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Wes, Divest?

“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.