Last Saturday, over 100 students, faculty, alumni and community members marched in solidarity with the Divest Williams campaign to demonstrate support for the initiative to divest the College’s endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
This Divestment Parade coincided with both the dedication of the recently completed Class of 1966 Environmental Center at Kellogg House as well as with the presence of the Board of Trustees on campus. The parade ended at Kellogg House as the demonstrators interrupted the dedication, calling for divestment.
Student leaders of the parade noted that while the new building is a great step for the College’s continued sustainability efforts, there is more work to be done. “Any sustainability leadership plan that does not include divestment is unacceptable,” Sarah Vukelich ’15 said. “Our presence at the dedication sent a clear statement that we are not satisfied with Williams’s feeble attempts to confront climate change and climate justice.”
“We wanted the parade to be associated with the dedication,” Tara Miller ’15 added, “because on-campus sustainability efforts are often seen as an alternative to divestment, rather than the necessary complements that they are.”
The organizers of the parade also focused on the Board of Trustees’ meetings all weekend. A small group of students, alumni and faculty met with several Trustees last weekend and this march served to demonstrate that fossil fuel divestment has a broad base of support at the College, according to Miller. “We want to keep pushing Williams to contribute in a significant way to the national political conversation, which it can do by joining an international movement and divesting,” Miller said. Additionally, Divest Williams leaders expressed that the parade was, in part, a show of appreciation towards the trustees for taking divestment seriously and designating significant time towards the issue.
Miller and Vukelich both remarked on the success of the parade. “The turn-out was huge for an activist event on [this] campus,” Miller said.
“It was really wonderful to be marching with all those people and an event like this really gives energy to the movement,” Vukelich added.
Notably, the members of the class of ’66 who had generously funded the new Environmental Center supported the Divestment Parade. “[They] were really into the march!” Vukelich said. “They shook our hands and thanked us for the important work we are doing, and we thanked them for an amazing new evinronmental center.”