LTE: A Response to “Former President of Ireland Talks Climate Justice and Human Rights” – Matthew Barad gets in the Heights

Our own Matthew Barad submitted a Letter to the Editor about a lecture Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and long-time climate advocate, gave on BC’s campus last week. He was published by the Heights, a Boston College paper. See his letter here and the full transcript below.


On March 13th, former Irish President Mary Robinson spoke in front of a crowd of Boston College students, faculty, and community members about the necessity of ethical leadership and of civic action. Retelling her own story, President Robinson demonstrated how a life of principled activism and responsible leadership can improve our world in very real ways. She never aspired to the presidency, nor towards any real power. Instead, it was a series of morally upright actions and passionate pleas for justice that paved her path to eminence.

This story was not told simply to inspire abstract civic duty, but rather to demand that the Boston College community further the cause of justice. Specifically, President Robinson asked that Father Leahy’s administration take steps to divest from fossil fuels. President Robinson asked that all those who would protect the climate to start actively working to defend it. From her speech, it became clear that passive support for divestment and environmental protection should no longer be tolerated. Instead, we must demand the active and aggressive defense of our planet.

While President, Mary Robinson worked towards Ireland’s divestment from fossil fuels — something which has now become a reality– and later served as the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change. In both offices, President Robinson recognized that human rights issues are deeply connected with climate change, and that communities across the world suffer when we continue to use fossil fuels. Therefore, investing in fossil fuel companies is not only foolishly shortsighted, but morally egregious. With Boston College’s sister school, Trinity College, selling its holdings in fossil fuels just last year on those same grounds, it is hard to imagine that Leahy’s administration has a defensible ethical or economic argument for maintaining its support of fossil fuels. From President Robinson’s speech, it was clear that she viewed Leahy’s refusal to divest as an affront to environmental justice, human rights, and indeed, to Boston College’s own stated mission of social responsibility.

If we are to learn anything from the wisdom shared by President Robinson, it should be that the era of apathetic consent must now come to an end. In her both her stated opposition to our administration’s current policy, as well as in her life’s work, it is plainly obvious that we have an obligation to demand divestment from fossil fuels. Organizations like Climate Justice at Boston College have worked towards this goal for nearly five years only to be met with silence, and this impassioned plea of such a respected and successful political figure ought to spark a resurgence in the fight for divestment. Put simply: We are faced with a crisis, and on March 13th, a former president told us exactly what to do about it.

Written by Matthew Barad, Class of 2020 and member of Climate Justice for Boston College.


Stand with Standing Rock: Environmental Racism in the Fossil Fuel Industry – Thursday 12/8/16

Thurdsday at 4:30pm on the O’neil plaza we will hear from Chief Sâchem Wômpimeequin Wampatuck of the Mattakeeset Tribe of the Masssachuset Nation. Come join us to stand in solidarity with the people at Standing Rock fighting the extremely controversial and dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline and reflect on the repeated environmental injustices done to Native American tribes. Despite the recent victory, the fight is far from over. We cannot sit down or give up. Climate Justice @ BC still stands with Standing Rock!15268085_617170775130055_9037044117739056727_n

International Solidarity: When the Impacts of Climate Change aren’t in My Backyard

Climate Justice @ BC presents a weeklong series of events focusing on how climate change’s impacts are unevenly distributed around the globe. Many developing countries face some of the worst impacts of climate change even while contributing almost nothing to carbon emissions, and other more developed countries contribute huge and increasing amounts to carbon emissions even while retaining a lower quality of life. There are many examples of this injustice as climate change disproportionately impacts the poor and people of color around the globe. In collaboration with the Chinese Student Association, the South Asian Student Association, and Eradicate Racism, Climate Justice at BC seeks to educate the student body on this environmental injustice as well as to create international solidarity on campus for action on climate change.

Check out our events this week!

Tuesday, Dec 6th at 8pm in Fulton 250: Panel on CHINA AND INDIA: The 2nd WORLD OF CLIMATE CHANGE @ 8pm in Fulton

Thursday Dec 8th at 4:30pm on O’neill Plaza: Stand with Standing Rock: Environmental Racism in the Fossil Fuel Industry

Friday Dec 9th from 10am-3pm in O’neill Plaza, Interactive Art display: How Your Carbon Footprint Contributes to Sea Level Rise



Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, others use auction to bring Multi-School Fossil Fuel Divestment Fund to $50,000

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2016

Contacts: Boston College alumna Annabelle Rebolli,, 347-899-5851

Boston College undergrad Jorge Mejia,, 917-484-3048

Website:   |   @DivestFund   |

Climate Justice at Boston College:

BC Alumni for Climate Justice:

Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, others use auction to bring Multi-School Fossil Fuel Divestment Fund to $50,000

New York, NY – The Multi-School Fossil-Free Divestment Fund, a grassroots collaboration connecting donors to campus divestment efforts, hosted an auction that raised just under $18,000 for the 26 participating campuses. The auction coincided with the Paris Climate talks, connecting local divestment efforts to the larger political problem that is the climate crisis. The total value is now over $50,000–all donations steered away from universities with fossil fuel investments. A growing chorus of students, alumni, and parents are calling on universities to pull their investments from companies whose practices are incompatible with the globally agreed upon 2° C warming threshold. Schools will only receive the donations in the Fund if they heed this call.

A collaboration among a dozen members of the Fund, the auction effectively expanded the reach of fossil fuel divestment. Auctioned items included many items related to universities with divestment campaigns: a personalized barber-shop-style “Happy Birthday” from Stanford’s Fleet Street singers, Italian ice with Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes, lunch with climate scientist-turned-activist James Hansen, conversation with world-renowned linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, and a Climate Denialist Tour of MIT.

Many items reflected the future that climate justice organizers are building: a membership to the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Zipcar gift certificate, Red Fire Farm Locavore Deep Winter CSA Farm Share, family membership to the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Still others were simply delightful: a week’s stay at a cottage on the Isle of White, massages, portrait sessions, and artwork galore. There were items with well-known participants, like a ski excursion with co-founder and Right Livelihood winner Bill McKibben. As well as lesser-known, like energy insider Sam Brintons tour of congress.

Fran Ludwig, an organizer with the Fund and BC Alumni for Climate Justice explained: “We aimed to have this auction be inclusive, in terms of location, price, and style of the items. That’s because we wanted to engage people to one powerful part of the climate justice movement–fossil fuel divestment.” Together with other organizers, donors are being contacted and recruited into climate activism. After all, explained CJBC member and BC first year Jorge Mejia, “money doesn’t mean much without people–people organized to fight the fossil fuel juggernaut is our only hope.”

New England Community Rallies for BC Student Rights

On Sunday April 12, BC Admitted Eagle Day, approximately 150 students, faculty, and community members from across New England converged onto the BC campus in protest of the suppression of free speech at Boston College. BC students, some already on disciplinary probation and worried of further repercussions, gathered for lunch together in Ignacio to distance themselves from the protest. The protest was a resounding success, followed that evening by a unanimous approval of the student group Climate Justice @ Boston College by the Undergraduate Student Government at Boston College (UGBC). Below are select photos, videos, and articles about the event.

Newton News coverage of the event as their leading story on April 15, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.43.30 PM

BC Students in Ignacio Hall wave to protestors as they march by through campus.

Five articles in the student newspaper, The Heights, covered the events:

(1) ‘We don’t even go here’,
(2) UGBC Vote Positions CJBC One Step From University Recognition,
(3) LTE: Letter From Climate Justice At Boston College,
(4) LTE: Letter From Former UGBC Vice President Chris Marchese,
(5) LTE: From Climate Justice On A Lunch With John Fish

BC Banner Drop by Students for a Just and Stable Future!

This morning members of the Boston community held a banner drop on BC’s campus, showing the administration that they can’t silence the divestment movement on campus with disciplinary sanctions. Climate Justice @ BC is deeply thankful for all the support.

Follow the event on Facebook:

Divest Banner Drop at BC

Fight Back @ Boston College – Rally April 12, 12:45pm, BC T-stop

The Boston community will be converging on the BC campus on April 12 in protest of the treatment BC students have received from their administrators, such as disciplinary probation for helping organize a peaceful vigil on campus. Upon denial of a permit, and for fear of further administrative backlash, CJ@BC will not be sponsoring the event – but off-campus community groups will be moving forward with the event.

For more information:

– Nate

CJ@BC Permit Denied, Members Fear Expulsion

Please help and spread the word!
Climate Justice at BC is getting attacked. Because of the repression and punishment BC students have faced, students, faculty, and community members outside BC planned a peaceful march and rally on April 12, meeting at 1PM at the BC green line stop. This is during BC’s admitted prospective students day. Special guests include Bill McKibben and Bob Massie. Climate Justice @ BC tried to work with the administration, as they always have, and have again been denied a permit. Worse, it now appears as though they will punish BC students anyways, even though most will not attend, and the students went out of their way to tell the administration about the action. Some CJBC members fear they may be expelled from school.

Here’s the call to action with the sign up link and a history of some of the repression and punishment.
Here’s the Facebook event.
This madness has to end

CJ@BC Withdraws Affiliation with April 12 Rally

Dear allies of Climate Justice at BC,


On April 8th, a CJBC member met with Dean Mogan. The aim was to work with the administration, honestly and respectfully, as we have always tried to do. As you may know, the larger Boston climate justice community, as well as those concerned about the repression and intimidation of student organizers at BC, decided to hold a peaceful march and rally on April 12th, meeting at 1PM at the BC green line stop. We want to be clear, CJBC did not have to tell the administration about the event. We could have kept the event a secret, as we suspect outside groups would have preferred. Instead, we approached the administration and sought a permit.

Unfortunately, the Dean of Students has again denied a permit to protest. This was done on the same grounds as past permit denials: CJBC is not a registered student organization and BC is concerned with liabilities. While we will continue attempts to work with the administration, CJBC has decided to withdraw our participation. Let us be clear, we are no longer affiliated with the event in any way. The action was never ours, but we wanted to be honest and transparent with the administration. As a sign of good faith, we let the administration know about this event which was organized by outside groups, and we are now being punished for that. Our attempts at working with the administration appear to have backfired: it now looks as though some CJBC members–those who continue to try and work with the administration–may face consequences regardless. We hope that is not the case.

We had hoped we would be able to work with the administration. We are saddened that we won’t be able to attend collectively as CJBC. It means the world that the whole Boston climate justice community has been so moved as to come to our aid, and we deeply wish we could participate. However, to our knowledge, faculty, staff, students, and the larger Boston area climate justice community will continue to hold the rally on our campus. It is also highly likely that acclaimed activists Bill McKibben and Bob Massie will be attending and speaking.

We hope those coming to stand in solidarity with climate justice organizers are not treated with hostility. If you choose to attend, you do so at your own risk. In all likelihood, it appears as though BC may lockdown what is typically an open campus. We are aware of the irony in preventing faculty and students, mothers and fathers, ministers and community allies from entering campus, when they are only seeking to demonstrate for the basic rights of students and the urgency of climate justice. Nevertheless, this is the situation.

Love and Solidarity

Climate Justice @ BC

@Fossil_Free  @BClimateJustice

Support BC and Divestment through the Divest Fund!

Rights on the Heights II: The Struggle Continues

Boston College students host their second “Rights on the Heights” rally in protest of aggressive oppression of students from the university administration. This protest follows on the heels of the first rally, which took place three months ago in  December 2014. Developments since the first protest have included new rules from the administration that further limit the ability of students to secure permits for protests along with punishment of student organizers of recent events, barring some students from applying to study-abroad programs.

Rights on the Heights II: The Struggle Continues. Zack Muzdakis gives opening remarks to over 100 students gathered on campus.
Rights on the Heights II: The Struggle Continues. Zack Muzdakis gives opening remarks to over 100 students gathered on campus.

Read more about “Rights on the Heights II: The Struggle Continues” in the front-page BC Gavel article here.

Watch the speakers here or below: