BREAKING: NYU Divest Occupies Bobst Library
April 18, 2016
UPDATE: After occupying an elevator of Bobst Library for more than three hours, university administration personnel, including Chief Financial Officer Martin Dorph, came to speak with Divest.
Dorph said the ongoing process of reviewing Divest’s proposal has been completely consistent with the terms agreed upon during the group’s last meeting with two members of the Investment Committee. However, Dorph said the committee has not yet reached a decision on whether or not it will make a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees to satisfy Divest’s demands.
“It is the Investment Committee’s intent to come up with a recommendation based on everything they have heard, including the materials you’ve provided, and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees,” Dorph said. “It is their goal to have that recommendation ready for the next Board of Trustees’ meeting, which is June.”
However, Divest organizers said they were unaware that the Board’s next meeting would be in June. Graduate student and Divest founder Sophie Lasoff said this was a clear indication of a lack of transparency from the university.
“We feel like there has been a lack of communication,” Lasoff said. “That’s why we’re here, so that everybody understands why we feel like we need to be here, because we haven’t been given that information.”
NYU Spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to WSN that today’s action by Divest was “puzzling.” Beckman said the university had been in touch with Divest regularly and repeatedly, and that there had been a meeting scheduled with President Hamilton for later this week.
“While we have been attentive to, met with, and corresponded with NYU Divest, the fact of the matter is that the issue under consideration is the resolution by the University Senate on fossil fuel divestment, not the demands of NYU Divest,” Beckman said. “We respect NYU Divest’s right to protest and state their position, and we understand they would like our answer on their timetable. But the reality is that the matter is being considered in line with the process we have repeatedly shared with NYU Divest.”
Dorph stated that the lobby of Bobst would close at 1 a.m. and he expects the occupation to disband at that time. Divest members are still occupying an elevator, although it is now stopped at the lobby level for the remainder of the protest.
Organizers say they will not leave until all of their demands have been met and the group is in the process of reiterating them in a written letter to be sent to the administration. In addition, Divest is planning a rally at 4:45 p.m. today outside Bobst Library.
Original Article: Eight members of NYU Divest are currently occupying the administrative elevator and lobby of Bobst Library, demanding that the Board of Trustees holds a vote on fossil fuel divestment at its next meeting and allows the group to give a presentation on the issue beforehand.
Administrators may take the elevator with Divest members up to the 11-12 floors, but many chose to take the free elevators up to the tenth floor and walk the rest of the way up. The group plans on staying in the elevator until the administration concedes to their demands.
CAS junior and Divest member Olivia Rich said former President John Sexton had promised the group a presentation in front of the Board of Trustees before they vote on fossil fuel divestment. However, it is unclear whether the issue will be on the agenda for the Board’s next meeting, and Divest has not been given a date to present their case.
“The reason why we are in this elevator today, occupying, is because it’s been a year since a favorable resolution was passed by the University Senate, and we were told that ‘If you get this resolution passed, you can meet with the Board,’” Rich said. “It’s been about a year now and we have yet to have contact with the full board or have any sort of timeline about when a vote might happen. This is the only way that we think our voices are going to be heard.”
NYU Divest met with two members of the Board of Trustees and Chief Financial Officer Martin Dorph earlier this year, but organizers say they have not received a response from the university on taking further steps toward divestment.
Rich said Divest’s chosen location of the administrative elevator symbolizes the lack of transparency at NYU, as Rich said she feels many executive decisions are made at the eleventh and twelfth floors without adequate student participation.
“We want to be in this executive elevator, reminding people that we’re still here and our voice is powerful and that we need our demands met,” Rich said.
At the time of publication, administrators had not approached Divest about their occupation. WSN will be following this story as it develops. Check back here for live updates and make sure to follow us on Twitter.
Email Anne Cruz and Lexi Faunce at [email protected]