This guest blog post was written by students from Bowdoin Climate Action and cross-posted from their website.
Brunswick, ME — After having its proposal for fossil fuel divestment ignored by the Board of Trustees last October, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) has gathered pledges from more than 50 students to “Sit-In for Climate Justice.”
“We do not undertake this lightly, but unfortunately both the Board and the President have refused to take responsibility. The Board has failed to communicate with us, which demonstrates it doesn’t take climate justice and the calls of our community seriously,” said said Bowdoin senior Matthew Miles Goodrich. “We exhausted our options, and so turned to the history of civil disobedience at the College for inspiration.”
When the trustees were at Bowdoin in early February, BCA hung a banner from a building to remind them that campus expected action. The banner’s text, a quotation from the College’s first president, read, “Literary institutions are endowed for the common good.”
“To value the Common Good means to value climate justice, but right now our investments support a rogue industry rather than the College’s own students,” said first-year Shinhee Kang. “By divesting, Bowdoin can choose its students and its values over climate chaos.”
On February 13th, spurred by continued silence from the Board, BCA helped organize a meeting in the student union to call attention to injustice on campus and beyond. At the meeting, which drew over 250 students, BCA asked for a trustee to be appointed divestment liaison by March 6th, and announced its intent to escalate if this request was not met.
The group did not hear from the Board.
“Bowdoin is falling behind. We’ve faced more than 140 days of silence from our trustees, and in that time, the New School divested, the UMaine system divested from coal, and the UN endorsed divestment,” said junior Allyson Gross. “This is a growing global movement, and it pays to be an early leader. Since the trustees refuse to act for climate justice, we will by sitting-in.”
Bowdoin Climate Action joins other students escalating their divestment campaigns this spring, including at Swarthmore and Harvard.