At 8 a.m. on Oct. 3, they went to work. Adorned in bandanas, homemade t-shirts and square pendants—all orange, the color adopted by the fossil fuel divestment movement—students from DivestNU set up their campground on Centennial Common. According to members, they will not leave until the university agrees to engage in a meaningful dialogue about divesting from the fossil fuel industry.
DivestNU is a coalition of more than 20 campus groups, all advocating for university divestment from the fossil fuel industry. According to group members, this public and long-term demonstration is all about visibility and sending a message to the administration. “What we really want right now is some acknowledgement of the student voice,” said Nick Boyd, a third-year electrical engineering major. On the second day of the campout, administrators told students that a representative would meet with them at noon to talk about the group’s demands. No representative came. According to Boyd, they have not directly heard from the university since.
Divest co-director Austin Williams said the demonstration comes in response to what the group believes is a dismissal of student voice on this issue. In a March 2014 referendum, divestment from fossil fuels won 75 percent of the student vote. Two years later, the university’s Social Impact Council issued a recommendation of divestment from the fossil fuel industry. In response, Northeastern administrators announced last July that, rather than divesting from the fossil fuel industry, they will be investing $25 million elsewhere, “with a focus on sustainability, including clean energy, renewables, green building, and sustainable water and agriculture”—although it is unclear at this time where exactly these investments will be going.
The DivestNU fight continues. Their demonstration is going on its eighth consecutive day, and DivestNU members maintain they will not leave the quad until the university responds to them, or until they are forced to leave by the Northeastern University Police Department. Check out some of the faces of the movement in the photo gallery above.