Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will deliver the keynote speech at a rally on Tuesday organized by Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC).
Titled “Environmental Activism in Standing Rock and Divestment,” the event will begin in O’Neill Plaza at 4:30 p.m. and will call on the University to divest its endowment from fossil fuel holdings.
“A continued dependence on fossil fuels, as well as a long history of environmental racism, have led to the disastrous situation in Standing Rock,” CJBC members said in a statement. “Meanwhile, universities and institutions around the globe, including Boston College, continue to invest billions of dollars in the fossil fuel industry.”
Edward Byrne, a member of CJBC and MCAS ’18, who is responsible for communicating with O’Malley’s office in Washington, said that the rally’s themes will link the intersection of climate change and social justice to BC’s mission of promoting ethical development in students.
“We really want to emphasize the importance of climate change, and divestment, as a way to challenge the university to uphold Jesuit values—particularly cura personalis [care for the entire person],” Byrne said in an email. “If one’s physical environment isn’t cared for, then the whole person will suffer.”
O’Malley was a Democratic candidate for president in 2016, and is currently the Rappaport Visiting Professor at BC Law School.
“Meeting the climate challenge requires a commitment to one simple concept: a full transition to clean, renewable energy and an end to our reliance on fossil fuels,” O’Malley was quoted as saying in a poster released by the rally’s organizers.
Matthew Barad, a representative of CJBC in the environmental caucus of the Undergraduate Government of BC and MCAS ’20, said O’Malley contacted them and offered to speak at Tuesday’s rally.
“O’Malley has been an active force in advancing progressive policy, and even drove [Democratic presidential candidates] Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to adopt his proposed climate plan during last year’s primaries,” Barad said in an email.
While O’Malley has expressed support for the growing student movement that demands that universities divest, it is unclear if he will call on BC specifically to divest. O’Malley’s communications aide declined a request from The Heights to comment on divestment.
In addition to O’Malley and a number of CJBC student activists, members of Eradicate Boston College Racism are expected to speak, as are Robert Wengronowitz, a Ph.D. student in BC’s sociology department, and Chief Wampatuck Wampimeequin of the Mattakeeset Tribe of the Massachusetts Nation.
Wampimeequin has spoken publicly many times at BC, most recently at a rally in December 2016 that denounced efforts to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on sacred land in North Dakota. On Tuesday, he is expected to condemn past crimes against Native Americans while strongly calling for equitable treatment in the future.
“Standing Rock is, sadly, a perfect example of underrepresented communities suffering from our reliance on fossil fuels,” CJBC organizer Dan McCarthy, MCAS ’20, said in an email. “We may benefit financially—but it comes at an unacceptable human cost.”
During the rally, and on behalf of CJBC, Barad will call for University officials to divest from holdings in fossil fuels, and to engage in “serious and respectful dialogue” with activist student groups.
“We want to hold BC [administrators] accountable for their actions,” Byrne said.