About 80 students, faculty, and alumni attended an indoor event held Monday by Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) as part of a nationwide walkout in response to President Donald Trump’s denying climate change. Speakers focused on the potential impact of Trump’s inaction in preventing climate change, and also criticized members of BC’s administration for not divesting the endowment from fossil fuel companies.
The nationwide day of action was created by the Divestment Student Network, a group that coordinates peaceful student rallies calling for divestment, and 350.org, a group founded by activist Bill McKibben that works to build a movement for climate justice.
Dean of Students Thomas Mogan worked with CJBC to register the event, which was held in the Heights Room in Corcoran Commons. He also attended.
Michelle Kang, MCAS ’18, spoke about Trump’s denial of the impacts of climate change and what his general actions as president could mean for the climate movement and the country. She called climate activism a war on “cowardice” and “corporate greed,” and mentioned that once Trump took office on Friday, an Obama administration webpage on climate change was replaced with an anti-regulatory energy plan.
“Trump is using his position of power and privilege to spread misinformation,” Kang said. “This means that our children will have no choice but to constantly fact-check the government.”
Kang then pointed out that Trump’s company applied in May 2016 for a permit to build a wall to protect its seaside golf resort in Ireland from the effects of global warming.
“He knows this is real but he just doesn’t care, because he knows that rich people like him will be the last to be affected,” she said. “When our air is dirty, our children can’t breathe, our water is poisoned, and our crops don’t grow, it doesn’t matter whether you vote red or blue.”
Some speakers also criticized BC, like Robert Ryan, BC ’66, who lives in the area and said he has been involved with CJBC since about 2013. He said that if CJBC is judged on whether it has achieved its stated goal of getting BC to divest from fossil fuels, it would be perceived as a failure. He, however, considers it a success. He mentioned Pope Francis’s climate change encyclical Laudato Si in appealing to BC’s Jesuit identity.
Joan Hwang, a member of CJBC who left BC after last semester, said BC’s administration “[tries] to shroud things in mystery” to make divestment seem complicated.
“If my logic serves me correctly, yes, to be invested in fossil fuels is to be invested in violence,” she said. “Fossil fuel money is blood money, absolutely and certainly, and a university that invests in fossil fuels has blood on its hands and must be held accountable.”
Mogan said that students who are concerned about divestment can look for other goals around environmental issues, including making BC more sustainable, and said that he thinks BC is doing a lot on that front.
University Spokesman Jack Dunn said in an email that the University’s position is that the most effective way to limit climate change is for BC to take active steps to reduce energy consumption and improve sustainability.
“That is why the University has aggressively pursued sustainability efforts that range from extensive energy conservation programs that have been embraced by faculty, students and administrators, to the construction of LEED-certified buildings on campus,” he said.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor