On Sunday September 21, 2014, BC students jumped on busses or into car-pools with activists from across Boston and headed down to NYC for the largest protest ever to demand global action on mitigating climate change.
At the protest we lined up along the west side of Central Park to prepare for the march, amongst a crowd that turned out to be 10x larger than the NYPD predicted: a solid 300,000+ protestors. There was music, chanting, singing, dancing, and all sorts of creative signs, flags and floats calling on our world leaders for action on climate change. Around mid-afternoon the march came to a halt because our numbers had completely filled the 2.2 mile march route… guess we’ll need a longer route next time!
At 12:58 pm everyone took part in a moment of silence, followed by a cheer crying out for action we all came to demand. I took the video below of this powerful moment:
To read more about the march, check out the articles written by NY Times, BBC, and CNN. (On Sunday evening these were the cover stories on the NY Times and BBC websites).
Make real change in your world – fight for climate action. Last spring BC students wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, requesting he speak on climate change at our commencement. Result: Sunday Kerry speaks at Yale, says nothing on climate change. Monday Kerry speaks at Boston College, with climate as his main focus.
Secretary Kerry speaks on climate change at BC Commencement!
Sixteen Boston College students and alumni attended a divestment convergence hosted in Washington, D.C. over spring break, joining thousands of other college students representing over 100 university divestment campaigns. The event, named XL Dissent, took place over two days and culminated in a youth-organized protest of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur Texas, crossing over farmlands and the enormous Ogallala Aquifer.
The Divestment Convergence brought leaders of college divestment organizations together for a strategy session, in which students broke up into smaller breakout groups to listen to speakers, brainstorm organizing strategies, and network with other youth leaders. The large turnout signifies the growing national divestment movement, with campaigns underway at over 300 universities as well as cities and religions institutions.
Students met for a morning rally at Georgetown University on the second day before beginning their march to the White House. BC students held a sign reading, “Boston College says no KXL,” marching and chanting in unison with 1,200 others. Upon arriving at the White House, several indigenous environmental leaders shared stories before 372 students engaged in civil disobedience to ensure that the students’ opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is heard. Six members of BC Fossil Free were arrested; a powerful start to their spring break.
Boston universities had an enormous presence at XL Dissent, sending three packed buses to Washington, D.C. for the Divestment Convergence and protest. After spring break, BC Fossil Free members intend to ramp up their campaign using the energy, enthusiasm, and organizing skills they gained from the event.
Boston College Fossil Free (BCFF) is a group of undergraduates, graduates, alumni, faculty and staff fighting the climate crisis by encouraging Boston College to immediately halt new investments in fossil fuel companies and completely divest from fossil fuel interests within five years. We work in solidarity with student groups in over 300 campuses across the United States.
Boston, MA– After roughly two hundred students from across Massachusetts walked out of classes today to call for strong action on climate change, Governor Deval Patrick agreed to meet with activists to discuss a ban on the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure.
“As a young person, I have an obligation to fight for a livable future, and right now, that means drawing a hard line in the sand against new fossil fuel infrastructure and committing to clean energy solutions,” said Martin Hamilton, a student at Brandeis University. “That’s why I walked out of classes today.”
The walkout, organized by Students for a Just and Stable Future, featured speeches from Newton North High School junior Kerry Brock, Wellesley College sophomore Ashley K Funk, and climate activist Tim DeChristopher.
The walkout came after months of campaigning by the grassroots organization Better Future Project and its volunteer-led climate action network 350 Massachusetts. Since summer 2013, activists have been calling on Governor Deval Patrick to “build only the best” by banning the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure and meeting all new energy demand through renewables and energy efficiency, using his authority under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
After rallying outside the Statehouse, the group of students waited outside as a smaller delegation of students entered the State House to request a meeting. They returned shortly with news that they had succeeded in securing an agreement to discuss the proposed ban with the Governor himself.
“Governor Patrick’s response to our walkout today only reaffirmed my conviction that he is the sort of moral leader we need to confront the climate crisis,” said Alli Welton, an undergraduate at Harvard College. “He has already been an outstanding champion of clean energy and climate action, and this ban would be the logical next step for his climate legacy.”
Students who walked out of classes said that they were excited for the opportunity to meet with the Governor, and had high expectations for the meeting.
“It’s a matter of common sense. Our generation understands that now is the time to stop pouring resources into new fossil fuel infrastructure that would lock us into decades of dangerous emissions and instead to start investing in a real transition to viable energy alternatives. Governor Patrick’s demonstrated foresight and leadership on climate make me believe he can take these bold actions and be our generation’s climate hero.” Henry Jacqz, a student at Tufts University.
On Saturday February 8 five students from Boston College joined 370 other concerned citizens from across New England for a march in Salem MA. The march was in protest against a natural gas plant that is proposed to replace the Salem coal plant that is currently being decommissioned. There were great speakers, fantastic live music throughout the march, and a warm reception with a live band at a local hotel, the Hawthorne Hotel.
Click here to read more!
This protest is just the beginning of the fight to stop the construction of a natural gas plant in Salem. It is meant as an improvement because it is replacing an existing (but very old and ready to retire) coal fired power plant. However, if constructed the new plant will lock us into carbon emissions for decades to come (as it would have a several decade life expectancy). Construction may start as soon as this summer, so we will need to fight hard. If successful though, this could be the first power plant in history to not be built with climate change as the predominant reason (past plans for plants have been scrapped because of various forms of air pollution, but not due to CO2 emissions).
On Thursday February 6 Father Leahy (president of BC) met with Bobby Wengronowitz (Sociology PhD student) and Sissi Liu (BC Freshman) from BC Fossil Free. Outside of the meeting 14 undergrads, grads, and alumni held a peaceful vigil to demonstrate how important this issue is to them, and to stress the urgency that we take decisive action to stop emitting carbon dioxide as soon as possible.
The meeting went well, both sides developing a deeper understanding of the issue. Keep eye’s posted here and in the BC newspapers for further details on the development of the Divestment Campaign at BC!