Standing Together for Endowment Justice

Originally Posted on The Yale Herald - Medium via UWIRE

Photo courtesy of EJC.

Last Saturday, 50 students, alumni, and spectators were arrested for disrupting business as usual during the 136th annual Harvard-Yale football game. Just one day later, I was getting ice cream at Ashley’s with a friend who was arrested at the game. She reflected on the surreal absurdity of the situation — digging into an ice cream sundae a day after being arrested. That we could actually plan on being arrested (and then move on with our lives) speaks to our privilege as Yale students. This is a privilege that some critics of our movement have been quick to point out. But privilege comes with a moral imperative, and the onus is on us to use our privilege to fight for justice. By leveraging our privilege as students of these universities, we used nonviolent direct action and ultimately arrest to call out our institutions for their complicity in the climate crisis and exploitation of the people of Puerto Rico. Yale’s continued and unnecessary investments in fossil fuel companies and Puerto Rican debt demonstrate a failure of leadership, and as a student who benefits greatly from attending this university, I feel compelled to speak against this continued practice. I know Yale can do better, and last Saturday’s events demonstrate that many others feel the same.

When we stormed the field on Saturday, we had spent months planning logistics and onboarding volunteers and participants. We had no idea we would be joined by over 350 more students, faculty, and alumni allies from the stands. Since then, an outpouring of community support has made it clear: Yalies won’t stand for their alma mater’s investments in the fossil fuel industry or in the predatory fund managers of Puerto Rican debt. Football team members and band members have since voiced their support. Over 1,300 alumni have signed a pledge promising not to donate to the university until Yale divests these holdings. Others have helped us raise over $15,000. One donor commented that they had planned to donate to Yale but would be giving money to cover activists’ legal fees instead, writing “Keep up the good work!”

Saturday’s action showed the world that student power here is on the rise. Our action was a turning point in the climate divestment movement: not only do students believe in the need to divest, we are willing to take disruptive and at-times uncomfortable actions to support it. We are also grateful to the support that continues to flood in from the alumni community, which reflects the growing momentum of our cause. We stand united — both boomers and zoomers — in our call for Yale to divest from toxic, unsustainable industries and exploitative Puerto Rican debt.

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