On Wednesday, Whitman College was joined in union with the Fossil Fuel Industry.

At the tasteful outdoor ceremony in front of the sun-kissed Memorial Administration building, Whitman made the journey down the aisle to meet its billionaire groom. The dearly beloved–150 students, professors, trustees, staff and community members– were in attendance to witness the nuptials. It was indeed a beautiful show, complete with flower girls who splashed symbolic gasoline instead of flowers down the aisle.



But all did not go picture-perfectly. Before the officiant (dressed in a monk costume) allowed the couple to seal the deal, a chorus of objectors shot up out of the crowd! There six of them in all, each dressed in funeral blacks, and each with something crucial to say about the dangerous bond Whitman was about to make.

One reminded Whitman that its duty as a distinguished college was to lead on climate policy and innovative science, and it would not be able to do this with integrity if it took the vows.

Another objector said she was all too suspicious of the groom’s part in climate change. She referenced her grandmothers struggle with the effects of a crisis she did not cause. Her grandmother lives in Kenya and depends on stable seasons and good soil to farm, and those are no longer guarantees thanks in large part to the devastation wrought by the industrialized world economy and the fossil fuel corporations that feed and maintain it.


Another objector said that love is sustainable and fossil fuels are not. He suggested that the bride hold back on the marriage and go out on a few dates with Sustainable Energy first.

A final objector spoke of fossil fuel’s unfaithfulness. He said that fossil fuel gets around to everyone, we have all had an affair with him, he has no loyalty and no future, and Whitman should be more cautious about choosing a partner.

The crowd applauded these objectors. Next, the groom tried to make a comeback and told the crowd they were:

“all to idealistic, liberal, radical, and thinking too much.” (which was a dramatized paraphrase of what our trustees said to Divest Whitman in their issued statement)

Many boos ensued.

In the end, the couple ended up taking the vows and completing their ill-fated union to some more loud “boos”. Nonetheless, they left the stage to dance in celebration to some nineties feel-good tunes.



All of this was of course a satirical show put on by the students and friends of Divest Whitman. We felt that a wedding perfectly symbolized the kind of life-commitment Whitman College makes in maintaining their investments in fossil fuels. As student organizer Dani Hupper ’17 put it in her closing speech:

“Just like in marriage, when your partner’s successes and failures become your own successes and failures, now the Fossil Fuel industry’s successes and failures are also Whitman’s.”

This wedding was a way for us to demonstrate something serious while having a great time.

The audience walked away with a new figurative understanding of what it means not to divest. They had seen confrontational and pointed activism take place in an upbeat and fun-loving atmosphere, and they left with a positive sentiment attached to their thoughts on divestment and the campaign. For any groups that haven’t escalated to a serious scale yet, Divest Whitman would highly, highly, recommend a mock wedding ceremony as your first step in escalating protest.

Finally, let’s all remember that campaigning for divestment is a very self-justifying process. We rally student support in order to get student legislation. We wield that student legislation to demand engagement from the administration. We use that (probable) lack of administration engagement to justify more and more actions, protests, and escalations until we’ve entirely justified the need to #divestNOW.

Sign-off: We were lucky to have our event covered by the local paper, a local ABC TV new affiliate, and distributed by the Associated Press. Check out other versions of the wedding recap in all of these places:

SF Gate


The Pioneer

Or, watch the entire thing here!

The Wedding Televised