Hundreds of students at Yale University abandoned their classes this week in an attempt to draw attention to climate change.
According to a report by the Yale student newspaper, hundreds of students abandoned their classrooms on Wednesday afternoon to bring attention to the university’s financial relationship with companies that have been accused of negatively impacting the environment through their business practices.
During the protest, Yale student Peter Steinmann read a list of demands directed at university officials. The students’ primary demand involves selling off the university’s financial interests in fossil fuel companies.
One student organizer of the demonstration estimated that as many as 1,500 Yale students participated in the “walk-out” protest. Some professors even allowed, or encouraged, their students to participate in the “walk-out” protest. Professor Sarah Mahurin was teaching “African American Autobiography” at the time of the protest. One student in her class claims that Mahurin permitted her students to leave class to attend the protest.
Yale officials claim that they do no invest in companies “that refuse to acknowledge the social and financial costs of climate change” and other that fail to take “economically sensible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
However, the report also notes that the Yale Investments Office has refused, on more than one occasion, to answers calls from student activists to divest their interest in fossil fuel companies.
According to a report on its website, the Yale Investments Office, which oversees the University’s almost $30 billion endowment, decided in 2014 and 2016 to retain its holdings in fossil fuel companies. Because of increased pressure from student groups, the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, which is composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni, addressed the issue of Puerto Rican debt. But they found that divestment “is not warranted when an investor is abiding by the applicable legal framework.” In the ACIR’s January 2018 decision, they added “there have been no allegations of unethical debt collection efforts or practices.”
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