Editorial: The Time for Divestment is Now

Last Saturday, Nov. 23, dozens of our fellow students sat at the 50-yard line of the Yale Bowl, risking arrest to demand that the administrations of both universities divest from the fossil fuel industry and predatory Puerto Rican debt and instead use its endowment as a force against climate change. The editorial board of the Yale Herald extends our support for the organizers from the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition, Fossil Free Yale, and Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard. We call on both Yale and Harvard to divest from fossil fuels.

Yale and Harvard are two of the richest and most powerful universities in the world, managing a collective $70 billion. Both universities are invested in fossil fuels, Puerto Rican debt, and private prisons. We stand in agreement with the divestment activists that these investments are simply and unequivocally unacceptable. It’s time for Yale and Harvard to stop investing in industries that have actively misled the public on and continue to contribute to climate change. Our liberal arts education cannot prepare us to live in a world where climate collapse is a reality. While our universities continue business as usual in the face of global crisis, nobody wins.

We thank our peers at both universities for organizing and executing this action. Your work has brought the fight for climate justice where it belongs: at the forefront of all of our minds. To quote a Tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), “Activism disrupts the present to change the future.” Our peers are changing the future. Now, the world is watching. What will Harvard and Yale do?

We also want to bring attention to the legal repercussions students face as a result of their actions. Forty-eight students were fined for disorderly conduct, with another student arrested on multiple charges. A fundraiser (linked below) has been started to support the activists in paying their potential fines. Yale students benefit from a unique position of privilege, one that permits — and necessitates — that we act against injustices around us. Over 400,000 Americans are behind bars without conviction simply because they cannot afford to pay bail, and our legal system is one that preys on and criminalizes poverty. None of the fifty students fined or arrested are still behind bars. This is not the norm.

As a student publication, our job is to report on and reflect the university and world around us. But our responsibilities as journalists are second to our responsibilities as students, as members of communities at Yale and beyond. We believe that proactive, necessary work towards a more sustainable world is everyone’s ultimate responsibility. Divestment is a critical — and entirely possible — place to start.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Yale Herald Editorial Board.

For alumni who wish to join student organizers in climate justice, sign the pledge.

To support the divestment activists, donate here.

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