This is an open letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks, written by the students of Fossil Free Cal

Chancellor Dirks, this is a call to action.

Last week, the students of Fossil Free Cal joined staff, alumni, and allies from the front lines of the struggle against the fossil fuel industry as we camped out outside California Hall, the administrative building in which you work every day. We set up tables, flags, and banners, covering the space with messages of justice and sustainability, and spent the night running trainings and workshops — holding space, together. By 7 AM the next morning we’d set up a full breakfast outside your door, and we kept a seat waiting for you all morning, engaging staff and passersby all the while about divestment, reinvestment, and climate justice — many of whom were supportive and believed our university has a responsibility to be a leader in defending our people and planet against climate change and fossil fuel extraction.

This won’t be the last time we’re taking action and calling on you to join us — in fact, this is more like the beginning. This was a first step in a broader, national process of escalation, echoing and inspired by the bravery and commitment of students from Harvard to Bowdoin to Yale, and with it we began to show our power and our intent to keep building it.

We’re here, and we want your voice.

We demand that you join us in calling on the Regents to divest from fossil fuels and stand with students, not the fossil fuel industry; to side with Richmond, not Chevron. And when students across campus know you’re not listening to them, when staff are lining up to show their support and your whole office is talking about divestment — then, we hope it gets a little harder for you not to listen.

This was an opportunity, and you missed it.

Chancellor, you could have sat down and joined us in public conversation. You could have joined the student government, Graduate Student Association, and Faculty Association in calling on the Regents to divest. You could have shown yourself to be a leader who listens to your students, who cares about climate change, about environmental racism, and about public health.

Now, the ball’s in your court.

You can still lead. With you and the other Chancellors on board, alongside students, faculty, alumni, and staff, our case to the Regents will be even stronger, and they will feel the pressure even more. As you decide whose side to choose, in the coming weeks supporters will be signing our Nonviolent Direct Action Pledge, a promise to take bold action together if you refuse to endorse divestment.

We’re waiting on you, Chancellor. Add your voice to the chorus and take action for divestment — we’re only getting louder from here.