Nineteen Yale University students were arrested on Thursday while participating in a sit-in at the main administrative building of the prestigious university as they called for the president and board of trustees to reopen the conversation surrounding fossil fuel divestment of the school’s nearly $24 billion endowment, the third largest among U.S. schools.
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According to Fossil Free Yale—the group behind the sit-in and a member of the global student movement urging colleges and universities to “Go Fossil Free”—48 students began the protest at 9 am and remained in the building peacefully until the building closed at 5 pm, at which time nineteen were arrested after refusing to leave the premises. Though not the first time students have been arrested as part of similar school divestment actions, it has been quite rare and is believed to be the first incident of student arrests during the current academic semester.
This video footage was posted by the Yale Daily News:
“Yale would rather arrest its students than re-engage in the conversation [about divestment],” said Fossil Free Yale project manager Mitch Barrows in a statement.
As those arrested were brought out, more than 150 students gathered in a circle around the building and chanted “The students united, will never be divided,” as the Blue Feather Drum Group, a Native American dance and music group, performed.
As Common Dreams reported earlier on Thursday, the action at Yale is part of a coordinated campaign among student climate justice activists across the country who have vowed to escalate their efforts this month in the face of bureaucratic roadblocks and refusals by trustees and top administrators, including Yale President Peter Salovey, who say that divesting from fossil fuels is either unwarranted or does not comport with fiduciary obligations. For its part, the student-led movement at Yale is fighting for the school to divest its $23.9 billion endowment from all holdings in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
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