American University Students Rally for Divestment Outside Trustees' Closed Door Meeting
American University's Fossil Free campaign wrapped up the semester today with an Open People’s Board Meeting just outside the room where our Board of Trustees was considering our divestment proposals and the support we’ve gained over the last few months. After the Board refused to let a representative from our campaign present, Fossil Free decided the best way to get our message across would be to hold this open meeting, allowing for the opportunity for all AU voices to be heard. We had previously been told that a voice through Student Government leadership was our only option for communicating the urgency of this issue but we believe the Trustees should hear all of our voices not just from one representative.
American University students and alumni, along with organizers and supporters from throughout the DC community, rallied at the Open People’s Board Meeting to envision what their endowment could look like if the Board had permitted representatives from American University Fossil Free to present on their campaign work.
During the Open Meeting, the case for divestment was presented to student representations of Board Chair Jeffery Sine and Finance & Investment Chair Gary Cohn, COO of Goldman Sachs. They also heard from organizers at the Energy Action Coalition, 350.org, campus coalition partners, and environmental justice activist Lili Molina. At the end of the speeches and presentations, our student board members decided the evidence was clear, and “fake” divested our endowment from fossil fuels while reinvesting our money into clean energy technology.
This action has followed several scheduled Board meetings, and conversations with the administration over the past week. Students waited outside of Thursday’s Finance and Investment Committee meeting, as well as Friday morning’s General Body meeting, greeting trustees and administration and thanking them for considering divesting. After several conversations, it was clear that fossil fuel divestment is the biggest student issue at AU this semester, but the students are waiting for a full Board report with results from all the meetings before deciding how to move forward on the next steps of the campaign.
This year Fossil Free American University has run an amazing campaign, from a kickoff event of fifty students in December, this amazing campus group has pulled together a strong coalition of campus organizations, and won a unanimous Student Government referendum, a student resolution advocating for divestment with 80% of the vote, hundreds of petition signatures and photos, and a Faculty Senate endorsement. They have held meetings with students and administrators, a week of social media and email actions, rallies, culminating with a weekend of action around commencement and a campaign endorsement from Lisa Jackson.
Big thanks to everyone who came out and supported us throughout the semester and on a weekday morning, we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop about our the future plans, this summer, and the rest of our campaign!