By Sachie Hayakawa & Swarthmore Mountain Justice
Today nearly 200 Swarthmore students, alumni, faculty, and staff allies entered the open Board of Managers meeting to deliver a statement: We will no longer tolerate business as usual. What arose was a powerful collection of voices calling for greater administrative accountability, student access to decision-making structures, and transparency within board business. Students shared stories of being intimidated, silenced, and disempowered in spaces across campus. This student-controlled forum challenged the long-standing power differential within these spaces and provided a platform to elevate a chorus of student voices.
Inside the Board of Managers meeting after they had been surrounded by 200+ students.
During this meeting Swarthmore Mountain Justice delivered a timeline and ultimatum for fossil fuel divestment. We recognize the divestment is not simply a finance issue, but it is an issue of values, priorities, and justice. It is an issue of transparency, accountability, and decision-making processes. It is an issue of environmental and climate justice, which means creating safe, healthy, and liveable communities on-campus and off.
To the Board of Managers,
Over the past two years, Mountain Justice has had 25 closed-door meetings with administrators and the Board of Managers. These have largely been unproductive; and the only result of these meetings is a verbal, non-binding commitment to have an educational panel in September.
We have presented information about climate change and divestment to the Board multiple times: May of last year, December of last year, this February, this past week.
You have been educated; you cannot justify your inaction with ignorance. The time for education has past, now is the time for divestment.
Between May and August 2013:
Commission a report on what the process of implementing our proposal would look like.
If necessary, call an ad-hoc board meeting to address any concerns about report. There is precedent for calling such a meeting – in 2001, when Swarthmore was discussing the future of football and wrestling at the college, an ad-hoc Board meeting called because it was an urgent issue. Climate change and environmental justice are certainly urgent issues..
By September 1, 2013:
- Publish the report on Swarthmore’s website and in campus press.
At the Board Meeting of September 27-28, 2013
- Have divestment interests represented in the teach-in addressing climate change.
- Make the decision to take action on climate change in light of report and panel by announcing plans to divest
At the Board meeting of December 6-7, 2013
- Demonstrate that Swarthmore has taken first steps toward divestment.
Ultimatum: If the Board of Managers does not agree to this timeline, then we will intervene in business as usual. We will intervene in business as usual because business as usual is not working, as Swarthmore is not acting on global issues and issues critical for this community.
video of the action: http://www.thenation.com/blog/174196/swarthmore-students-board-managers-no-more-business-usual