By EMILY WILLIAMS ’16
This Wednesday, Fossil Free Wellesley held a march called “#RejectionDenied” in response to President H. Kim Bottomly’s recent announcement that she and the Board of Trustees had decided not to divest the College’s endowment of fossil fuel stock. The organizers and their supporters marched from the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center to the entrance of Green Hall, where they read a letter addressed to Bottomly. Fossil Free Wellesley had asked the Board in October to sell off the College’s direct investments in fossil fuel companies and gradually move away from Fossil Fuel funds.
Roughly 70 students participated in the march, holding signs that said messages like “Forward on Divestment” and “Divest For A Legacy To Be Proud Of.” They chanted “Divest, divest, put fossil fuels to rest,” “We are unstoppable, another world is possible” and “Show me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like.”
Before the march began, several members and supporters of Fossil Free Wellesley shared their reasons for advocating divestment and joining Wellesley’s movement.
“We are here because we know that by acting together all of our voices will be amplified. We are here because we will not take no for an answer,” Betsy Kinsey ’16, a core organizer of Fossil Free Wellesley, said in her speech to the participants.
Although about a third of attendees were members of Fossil Free Wellesley, many were not officially affiliated with the organization.
“The first time I went to [a Fossil Free Wellesley] event I heard about a personal story which was really touching. This girl talked about how fossil fuels gave her asthma, and now breathing is a luxury for her, which made me feel very astonished,” said Xi Xi Lu ’17, a participant in the march. “For me I see this as doing something for specific people rather than just for abstract goals.”
Other students came to protest because they felt that the administration had ignored student requests on other issues.
“Wellesley always says that the students have a voice, but when it came to the [‘Sleepwalker’] sculpture, the president says they’ll listen to the students, but they weren’t listening,” said Anna Winters, a foreign exchange student.
Once they reached Green Hall, members of Fossil Free Wellesley announced their plans to follow up on the Board’s rejection.
“Years from now, it will be clear which institutions stood on the right side of history when it came to climate justice. We will not rest until Wellesley is among them,” Fossil Free Wellesley stated in its letter.
Bottomly was not present for the reading, and Fossil Free Wellesley will deliver a separate letter to her at a later date.
Meredith Wade ’17, another core organizer of Fossil Free Wellesley, thought that the rally was successful, although she had expected a larger turnout.
“What was best about it is that the people who were there were really, really excited, and very energetic about being there,” Wade said.
According the Wade, Fossil Free Wellesley expected a negative response from the Board of Trustees, as most other institutions have declined to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock when students initially presented them with divestment proposals. Group members hoped that the march would show the on-campus community that Fossil Free Wellesley would not give up the push for divestment.
The Board has agreed to continue discussing divestment with Fossil Free Wellesley and encouraged the group’s members to carry on with their research on the future of divestment and on sustainable investment alternatives for the Wellesley community.