Divest Occupation Ends Amidst Threat of Suspension
April 19, 2016
NYU Divest ended its occupation of the Bobst executive elevator at 5 p.m. Tuesday after administrators informed the organization that the 18 students who stayed overnight would be immediately suspended if the protest continued.
Divest organizers stated the occupation was a “victory” after administration conceded to some of their demands. The Board of Trustees will receive Divest’s campaign material, a “good faith” effort will be made to put divestment on the agenda for the Board’s June meeting and the Board will issue a statement of their final decision on divestment.
NYU Spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to WSN that the university was pleased with the outcome of the occupation.
“Our proposals to the NYU Divest students — including the opportunity to make a presentation to the Board’s Investment Committee — were offered in the spirit of compromise,” Beckman said. “We are glad the students ultimately came to understand that, agreed to our proposals, ended their protest, and — we hope — provided us all with a basis for moving forward constructively.”
Despite the threats of suspension and restriction from entering housing and academic buildings, Gallatin sophomore and Divest ally Hannah Fullerton said the 33 hour occupation sent a clear message to the administration.
“The [threats were] an egregious mistake on behalf of the administration because now it is clear that this is an issue of student power versus administrative greed,” Fullerton said. “But we have the people on our side.”
Gallatin sophomore Brennan O’Rourke slept just outside the elevator during the occupation’s overnight stay and said the sense of unity exhibited throughout the event was really powerful.
“Climate change is an extremely pressing issue, and I think it effects everyone,” O’Rourke said. “Climate change sees no class, and so everyone is affected by the effects of climate change. I think it’s a really important issue and staying overnight was a really powerful experience.”
Many student groups showed their support for Divest’s cause by issuing statements of solidarity after they rallied outside Bobst. President of Latinos Unidos con Honor y Amistad and Black and Brown Coalition organizer CAS junior Juan Calero Canaval said more steps need to be taken to ensure divestment in the future.
“BBC and LUCHA stand with Divest and always have,” Calero Canaval said. “We have tried to push the administrators to give you the full demands and more. A vote is not enough. A vote will only let them say yes or no. We must be prepared to organize in any circumstance, and any escalation Divest takes, BBC will stand behind.”
Gallatin junior Sumathy Kumar also gave a statement of support on behalf of the Incarceration to Education Coalition.
“Racial justice is connected to environmental justice, and we need to vote on fossil fuel divestment immediately,” Kumar said. “There is a clear fear from the administration about student power at this university. The amount of backlash that Divest has just had to endure is unprecedented and ridiculous. They only act this strongly when we’re powerful.”
CAS senior and Divest member Lila Carpenter said the movement to divest from investment in fossil fuels has immense potential at NYU because continual student support has shown this is an issue the community cares about.
“This administration is afraid of the power that students have,” Carpenter said. “We are a force to be reckoned with. That was clear with IEC’s occupation and now it has been made clear with Divest’s occupation.”
Additional reporting by Greta Chevance. Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected]