By Fossil Free Penn
At 9 a.m. today, 33 students at the University of Pennsylvania entered College Hall, sleeping bags in tow, to sit in with two demands. These demands were:
2. The establishment and commencement of a plan for full divestment from all fossil fuel corporations within six months.
The students plan to stay until these demands are met and are prepared to risk potential university disciplinary action.
"The fossil fuel industry is directly responsible for the continued exacerbation of climate change, a crisis that disproportionately harms marginalized people and groups," Wharton freshman Megan Kyne said. "The University of Pennsylvania's investment in this financially, logically and morally unsound industry perpetuates practices that endanger all and contradict its own claims of dedication to sustainability and equality."
After more than two years of Fossil Free Penn's campaigning, students sit in out of necessity. In response to a 48-page research document detailing the merits of divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies, the board of trustees rejected the proposal with a mere 19-word rebuttal in September 2016. Most recently, in response to an open invitation to engage in a public discussion about divestment, the board of trustees refused.
"We have exhausted every other avenue for appealing to reason and logic, but the administration has been uncooperative. They leave us no choice but to sit in," college senior Peter Thacher said.
Students and faculty support Fossil Free Penn's demands, 87.8 percent of undergraduate students voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment in a February 2015 referendum and a faculty letter of support released in April 2016 has amassed 129 signatures. Thus, Fossil Free Penn demands a plan for full fossil fuel divestment. Immediately, however, Fossil Free Penn calls for divestment from coal and tar sands, an imperative step that peer institutions have already made.
Fossil Free Penn and its allies are prepared to maintain their presence in College Hall indefinitely in hopes of ensuring climate justice.