by Gabriel Dunsmith, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
On Friday, March 1st, 60 Vassar students rallied outside the Board of Trustees' gathering to encourage the trustees to divest from fossil fuels.
For several hours on Friday night, Vassar students cheered the trustees and welcomed them into the Alumnae House, where their gathering was being held. We passed out an Open Letter to the trustees, welcomed them with smiles, and chanted "Divest please, Vassar trustees!" as the trustees entered the building. We held up signs with slogans such as, "It's best to divest," "Fossil free! Yes divest!", "We trust our trustees! (to divest)," and "Invest in our future."
The demonstration was a follow-up to a meeting on Thursday, February 28th, in which members of Divest VC met with two trustees, including Chair of the Board William Plapinger. As a result of the overwhelming 23-1 vote in support of divestment from the Vassar Student Association (VSA), it was time to take our cause to the trustees. Last Thursday's meeting was an attempt to get speaking time at the full meeting of the Board. Though we were received cordially, our request was denied--so we decided to step up the pressure on the Board.
It was important to show that we can be professional in one setting and display our collective power in other settings, gathering massive student support for a public demonstration to the trustees.
The weekend was encouraging on many fronts, combining our campaign's research and momentum in a powerful call to divest. For the most part, the trustees were receptive and willing to listen to our concerns. As shown in the above video several trustees came out and spoke to us, reciprocating the positive attitude that we projected.
Moving forward, our demonstration showed that the trustees have no choice but to divest.