Category Archives: Updates

#ResistReject Denial and the Alumni Apartheid Panel

#ResistRejectDenial

On January 23rd, Fossil Free Yale participated in a nation-wide, post-election action coordinated by 350.org and the divestment student network.  This national day of action, tagged #resistrejectdenial, showed that students and allies across the country will stand up against the climate deniers that populate the new administration’s cabinet.  In our action, we entered Woodbridge Hall with a group of students holding signs with the faces of especially egregious climate deniers in the cabinet: Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, and Rick Perry.  Three of our freshmen spoke, highlighting the dangers of each cabinet nominee, and speaking about their personal stakes.  Mary Evelyn Tucker, one of our faculty allies from the Divinity School, also spoke, referencing a passage from Yale‘s very own handbook, The Ethical Investor, about the university’s moral obligation to divest in a “world in flames” situation.  FFY and friends filed out with a song.

Apartheid Divestment Panel
On February 9th, Fossil Free Yale and Yale Students for Prison Divested hosted four Yale alumni who were lead organizers in the South African apartheid divestment movement of the 1980s. Inspiring Alumni Charlotte Hitchcock and Andrea van den Heever were also scheduled to come but travel plans were cancelled due to an intense snowstorm. These four extraordinary organizers — Matthew Countryman, Elizabeth Juliver, Michael Moran, and Jon Ritter — spoke about divestment as a tactic, organizing at Yale, building coalitions with other student groups, unions, and New Haven-ites, putting together thousand-person demonstrations, and what it was like to build and live in a model Shantytown on Beinecke Plaza.  Roughly one hundred members of the Yale community came out for the event (despite the blizzard and the cancellation of classes), and it was followed by a march to Beinecke Plaza, where the Shantytown once stood and where the President still works.

Alumni for a Responsible Endowment
Thank you to the alumni who signed our online letter to the Yale Corporation recommending that the University divest from the fossil fuel industry.  You can read the letter here  – and it’s not too late to add your signature!

EARTH DAY 2015

In 2014, the global temperature was 1.24º above the 20th century average, making it the warmest on record. The sea level was 60.65 mm higher than in 1870. CO2 levels rose to 400 parts per million, the highest ever. In human terms, that meant hundreds of thousands of people displaced, communities ravaged by natural disaster, and severe drought and flooding worldwide. The Earth (as we know it) is at a breaking point.

This Earth Day, let’s take time to look at the true state of climate change and environmental degradation. There has been much progress made this year, with social and political movements pushing for change all over the world, and that progress needs to be celebrated. But in the face of this momentous crisis, we need to remember how much more work needs to be done. As our politicians deny the existence of the crisis and stall attempts at action, as the industry continues to explore for more and more carbon-intensive fuels, and as our very own administration fails to take serious action and refuses to engage in dialogue with us, the crisis is worsening. People all over the world are threatened, especially those peoples who are already most vulnerable.

This earth day, let’s take time to look at the true resistance springing up around the world. We are inspired by the communities who are standing up against extraction and refinement, standing up for their health and safety in the face of exploitative industry. We are inspired by the peoples across the world learning to value the planet and each other. We are inspired by the young people everywhere committing themselves to bring about change. It is this responsibility and strength that is needed from all of us.


2015 can be the year that we turn the tides on this crisis, but first we must recognize the urgency and the mobilization that it truly requires.

Statement on our Sit-In

Friends of Fossil Free Yale,

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Photo: the 19 students arrested and ticketed by Yale during peaceful protest

We want to start off by giving thanks. We are incredibly humbled by the overwhelming support we received not only on the Yale campus but across the country. Thank you to everyone working on all fronts of the divestment and climate justice movement who expressed love and solidarity. We felt the strength of this movement behind us throughout the day, and know that the true meaning of our action is realized in the context of this global campaign. Thank you to the over 150 people who showed up for us, stayed with us, celebrated with us, got angry with us, and received 19 of us outside Woodbridge Hall at the end of the day. It’s difficult to express just how much your presence meant, and will continue to mean to us going forward. You all gave us the courage we needed, and we could not have done it without you. Thank you all so much.

We also want to thank the Yale Police Department and the administrative staff in Woodbridge Hall for the respect and accommodation they showed to us while we were in the building. We appreciated your patience and understanding about why we needed to take this step in our campaign.

While we are very proud of what we accomplished on Thursday and the way our community came together with love and support, we know that much more work lies ahead before we can truly celebrate. We must remember why we decided to take this action, and why we believe in fossil fuel divestment. There is an incredible amount at stake here. Each day that continues with business as usual, we inch closer to climate catastrophe, and each day the fossil fuel industry continues to exploit our planet and our peoples for the sake of profit. Lives continue to be lost. Sitting in Woodbridge Hall and risking disciplinary action and arrest will never compare to the risks faced by those living on the frontlines of the struggle for climate justice. Even as we celebrate victories in our campaign, we must never forget for what and whom we do this work. Our work is far from over.

Shortly after entering Woodbridge Hall, FFY organizer Phoebe Chatfield read a statement to President Salovey asking that the Yale Corporation publicly commit to reconsider divestment. President Salovey responded by redirecting us back to the bureaucratic channels through which we have been working for two years with little progress. This was not a response. Our demand was not that Yale explain its administrative processes, nor was it that Yale commit to divestment while we were still in Woodbridge. Rather, we demanded only that decision-makers address the social injustices of the fossil fuel industry and recognize the widespread community support for divestment. Our ask was merely that the administration commit to reconsider our proposal in full. Yale’s failure to engage in a conversation on climate justice shows just how unaccountable the true decision-makers are to the Yale community, which has demonstrated overwhelming support on all fronts. We believe in the justice of our cause, and we will not be satisfied until Yale chooses to divest from fossil fuels.

The administration’s reaction on Thursday made it clear that they are unwilling to engage with this issue authentically. In this way, Yale continues to disappoint us. The University has disappointed us by ignoring the premise of our arguments, by avoiding real dialogue, by pointing us to unaccountable and ineffective administrative channels, and ultimately, by deciding that they would rather arrest and punish 19 students than commit to engage in true conversation.

Yale further disappointed us with an aggressive reaction to peaceful protest. University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews threatened students engaging in civil disobedience with disciplinary action that could result in suspension or expulsion. Yale disappointed us once again when representatives from the University tried to spin the story, claiming that students were not actually arrested but only cited with “infractions.” This is a blatant attempt to cover up what administrators know was an embarrassing display that contradicted the values of the University. The Yale Police informed us that we were being arrested multiple times, and our legal counsel confirms that arrests took place. No other University administration in the United States has arrested a single student for attempting a sit-in for fossil fuel divestment. Yale arrested 19. Yale has made clear whose side they are on, and it is not the side of the students.

As Thursday’s action demonstrates, the state of our campaign is stronger than ever. We are excited to move forward on all fronts. As of Friday, April 10th, 62 Yale professors have signed a letter of support urging the Corporation to reconsider fossil fuel divestment, with more signatures added every day. We have meetings planned with the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, with whom we will continue discussing arguments for divestment. And, we are excited to continue working with other groups and students on campus. Our sit-in and our campaign for divestment is a part of a larger movement for student voice on this campus known as Unite Yale that works in solidarity with students organizing around cultural centers, financial aid, and mental health reform.

Lastly, we still need your support. On Thursday, Yale fined 19 students $92 each. The combined total of the fines is $1,748, a significant financial burden for these individuals and our campaign. Please donate here to help defray the cost: www.fossilfreeyale.org/donate. Any amount helps.

Onwards and in solidarity,

Fossil Free Yale