Last week, while the end of the semester passed and most students were packing up and graduating, Fossil Free AU came together and pulled off an awesome week of actions around Commencement and the Board of Trustees Meetings!  Over the Commencement weekend, graduating seniors wore small green dots to make a big impact, and symbolize witholding any donations to AU until the university divests.  Student leaders also met with Commencement speaker Lisa Jackson, the former director of the EPA, prior to her speech to explain our campaign. Following the meeting, Jackson endorsed our campaign!

Our campaign culminated on Friday May 17th, with an Open People’s Board Meeting just outside the room where our Board of Trustees was considering our divestment proposals and 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.


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 Members, Jeffery Sine and Gary Cohn, COO of Goldman Sachs.  They also heard students of AU Fossil Free, the President of AU College Democrats, alumni supporter Mary Schellentrager ‘10 with Energy Action Coalition, and Lili Molina, an environmental justice advocate who worked with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization on the 10-year campaign to successfully close the Crawford & Fisk coal plants in Chicago. 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 referenduma 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.

Check out a video of the event here! Thanks to our friends Mary and Zakee at the Energy Action Coalition for putting it together!

AU students take their demands directly to the Board from POWER SHIFT TV on Vimeo.

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!