On November 23rd, students, faculty, and community members from Yale and Harvard disrupted the annual Harvard-Yale football game to demand that both universities divest their $40.9 billion and $30.3 billion endowments from the fossil fuel industry and cancel their holdings in Puerto Rican debt. Nobody wins when our elite institutions profit from the destruction of our climate and the exploitation of communities on the frontlines of climate change. This action follows in the footsteps of seven years of organizing at both universities, including sit-ins last year at Yale in which the university chose to arrest more than eighty students instead of committing to climate justice. Once again, instead of listening to student demands, Yale arrested more than thirty activists at the game, and charged many with disorderly conduct.
Climate change and its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities is reaching a crisis point. Just last year, the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, burned through more than 150,000 acres in Northern California, killing 85 people and destroying the lives of hundreds more. Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 11,258 scientists from 153 countries have warned in a new report that the planet "clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency." More than a thousand universities, churches, cities, and countries have divested from fossil fuels, most recently Middlebury College, Smith College and the entire University of California system. All the while, Yale and Harvard continue to invest in fossil fuels and Puerto Rico's debt. These prestigious institutions have an opportunity to respond to the climate change research they so proudly tout by divesting from fossil fuel companies, which are uniquely culpable in the climate crisis. But while Yale and Harvard students demand that their institutions divest from fossil fuels and instruct their fund managers to cancel holdings in Puerto Rican debt and go through every administrative channel possible, these prestigious institutions fail to act. They continue to fall behind.
A few fundraising campaign details:
Our organization is the Endowment Justice Coalition, a unified front of Yale students, faculty, alumni and New Haven residents calling for ethical investment practices at Yale University. Our organizing takes place primarily on Yale's campus, but we are a part of a national movement fighting for institutions of higher learning to promote climate justice through divestment from the fossil fuel industry. The money we raise will be directly supporting the costs of organizing the Harvard-Yale Action and the following legal proceedings. Specifically, funds will cover our legal representation, transportation costs for Harvard students to meet their court appointments, and other logistical items that made the Harvard-Yale Action possible. Any remaining money will remain within the Endowment Justice Coalition to fund our next direction action. We will not let the pressure down until Yale discloses and divests from fossil fuels, and cancels its holdings in Puerto Rican debt.
Many of the amazing activists who were arrested rely on financial aid for tuition, and we do not wish for any student to suffer financial repercussions for participating in direct action against climate injustice. We hope that already vulnerable students are not financially burdened for putting themselves at risk to make their institutions more just.