On February 13th, 2015, undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni gathered outside O’Neill Library and marched to President Fr. Dr. Leahy’s main office, as part of a call for Boston College to withdraw its investments from fossil fuel companies. Organized by the group Climate Justice at Boston College (CJ@BC), this action was carried out in coordination with climate justice organizers for Global Divestment Day, calling for a Valentine’s Day “breakup” between BC and the fossil fuel industry.
The day of action follows Thursday’s at the Massachusetts State House and at Harvard. This global coordination of action displays the growth of divestment campaigns and their increasing pressure on decision-makers to stand for a stable climate and a just economic system. CJ@BC joins thousands of students across the country who are calling for their respective universities to divest from fossil fuel companies that have polluted the scientific process, our democracy, and our communities.
Before the vigil, students gathered in front of O’Neill library for a kick-off call and response. Alyssa Florack (‘17) described the destructive relationship Boston College maintains with the fossil fuel industry, and called for a breakup.
“A long time ago, BC began its investment relationship with fossil fuel companies. They were making tons of money, and BC was happy. Or so it thought. Eventually, the affair started to heat up, and that’s when BC found out about global warming. Despite institutional pressures to maintain the status quo, many are realizing the dangerous consequences of this relationship. And the relationship doesn’t just hurt BC; it hurts all of humanity.” BC’s investments in the fossil fuel industry are not only unethical, but also risk the futures of the students the college claims to be educating to “shape the future”.
After the rallying speech, students marched to McElroy and down College Road to Botolph House. During the march, students sang rewritten verses from Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” playing on Valentine’s Day and repeating the call for BC to “break up” with fossil fuel companies that perpetuate climate chaos.
The group of 30 were respectful, peaceful, and in high spirits, reflecting hopes for a better future. Students held signs with phrases like “It’s not me, it’s you,” “Pick a side” (with Boston College pictured on one side of a broken heart, and the Koch Brothers on the other), “This is an intervention,” and many more.
During the vigil outside Fr. Leahy’s office, a somber and solemn mood took over. Students shared their hopes for Boston College to be the best that it can be. Bobby Wengronowitz said, “BC claims ‘to exercise careful stewardship of its resources’ but what about the land on which the college sits? How is investment in fossil fuels, which contribute to rising sea levels, which may soon threaten to submerge the college, ‘careful stewardship?’”
Delia Ridge Creamer (‘16) said, “I have been working on this campaign since my freshman year at BC, and it’s inspiring to see how much momentum we have gained in the past year alone”. CJ@BC has been organizing for over two years, calling on Boston College to stand for climate justice. In addition to divesting from fossil fuels, CJ@BC has been calling for more investments in renewables and efficiency, as well as more climate-related programs that would generate student-faculty collaboration and prepare students for work in burgeoning fields.
Erin Sutton (‘16) said: “As a student who relies on financial aid that Boston College provides for me, I feel ashamed accepting money that’s supposed to be building my future when it comes from the very corporations that are destroying it. I want to go to a Boston College that I can be proud of.”