April 25, 2014

WashU Students Against Peabody are Taking Our Fight to the Board of Trustees


It’s Day 17 of the Students Against Peabody sit-in.  17 days ago, we came together to act on the belief that Wash U’s relationship with Peabody Coal must end.  After two and a half weeks of sitting-in, we are proud of our accomplishments. We have built a group of students and community members dedicated to ending Wash U’s relationship with Peabody; hopefully laid a foundation for continued powerful student organizing next year; gathered thousands of supporters from all across the country who are now acutely aware of Peabody’s injustices and have joined our call to remove Greg Boyce from the Board of Trustees; deepened relationships with national allies and community groups; and elevated the voices of the communities who have been resisting Peabody for decades.

Through the sit-in we have learned more than we could have ever imagined.

We have learned what it takes to grow a movement of fellow students and community members. We have learned what it means to challenge ourselves to escalate on campus in order to chip away at the power of the world’s largest coal corporation. And most importantly of all, we have learned that although organizing is difficult and tiring work, we must push on in order to win and continually strategize and adjust our tactics.

A few days ago, the administration released a public statement stating that our demands to remove CEO Greg Boyce from the Board of Trustees, change the name of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, and tour Peabody extraction sites are demands that the University “cannot and will not meet. ” The administration’s refusal to act is frustrating, but not unexpected. Indeed, it is symptomatic of a greater crisis: the very real and very deep relationship between our university and Big Coal, and between Chancellor Wrighton and Greg Boyce. 

The sit-in has served a vital role in shining a spotlight on Wash U administrators and their relationship with Peabody. As long as Peabody continues to destroy communities and our climate, we will not be silent or take a “no” from the administration as an acceptable answer.

That is why we are ending our sit-in and redirecting our collective energy towards the source of the problem: Wash U’s close relationship with Peabody CEO Greg Boyce.  As long as Boyce sits on the Board, Wash U will never condemn Peabody, change the name of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, divest from fossil fuels, or be truly sustainable.

On May 1st, the Wash U Board of Trustees will meet for their last quarterly meeting of the school year. Of course, Greg Boyce is invited to the meeting. But, with this morning’s banner drop, Students Against Peabody has formally “uninvited” Boyce to the meeting. We (and the thousands of supporters we have garnered over the past weeks) do not want him to come to this board meeting or any future board meetings. We want him off ofour Board of Trustees.

But if he does choose to show up, we will be there to let him know that the time has come for Wash U to Cut Ties with Peabody.