Students Protest for University Fossil Fuel Divestment on Over 180 Campuses

The student call for fossil fuel divestment spreads nationwide following Bill McKibben’s “Do The Math” tour.

| 12/18/2012

Over 180 campuses across the country have joined a new campaign from calling on colleges and universities to divest their endowments from the fossil fuel industry, estimated at a total of $400 billion nationwide.

The campaign is being sparked by Bill McKibben and’s “Do The Math” tour, an effort to connect the dots between extreme weather, climate change and the fossil fuel industry. The 21-city tour kicked off on Nov. 7, 2012, in Seattle and sold out many venues it’s visited.

“We've felt serious momentum along this transcontinental roadshow -- but the numbers of full-on divestment campaigns got larger faster than we could have dreamed,” said McKibben. “A year notable for ice-melt, parched crops and superstorms is going out with a different kind of bang: an explosion in activism, aimed squarely at the rogue fossil fuel industry.”

From big state schools like the University of Michigan to small liberal arts colleges like Amherst, students have taken up the cause. At a number of schools, such as Swarthmore, students have already met with their boards of trustees to discuss proposals; at others, like the University of New Hampshire, activists have gathered thousands of petition signatures calling for action. Earlier this month, an official Harvard student resolution supporting divestment passed with 72 percent of the vote.

“Students are the sleeping giant that rose to end apartheid and fight for many other just causes,” wrote Harvard sophomore Alli Welton in a blog for The Nation. “Now more and more students are mobilizing against business as usual in the fossil fuel industry.”

Hurricane Sandy, and the string of extreme weather events that preceded it, have provided a new sense of urgency for many student activists. At a Do The Math tour stop in Los Angeles, over 100 students from the five Claremont Colleges rallied with a banner that read “Hurricane Sandy Says: Divest the West.”

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