Brunswick, ME — Early Wednesday morning, 28 Bowdoin students entered President Barry Mill’s office for a “Sit-In for Climate Justice,” refusing to leave until the College committed to collaborating with them on fossil fuel divestment.
“We proposed divestment to the trustees back in October and were ignored. They haven’t taken the calls of our community seriously,” said Bowdoin senior Matthew Miles Goodrich. “Because the Board has refused to work with us, we’re taking action for climate justice.”
The sit-in is the culmination of three years of campus organizing. Last April, Bowdoin Climate Action presented 1000 student signatures–representing the majority of campus–for divestment to President Mills. With 70 faculty members expressing support, the group formally proposed divestment to the Board of Trustees last October, but student presenters were cut off when inquiring about next steps.
“We’re sitting in because we have to ask our trustees whose side they are on,” said first-year Shinhee Kang. “Do they side with their students, which the endowment is invested for, or an industry whose practices are antithetical to our values and the common good?”
In addition, Bowdoin Climate Action published a letter endorsing the sit-in, signed by 38 alums, including Director of Spiritual Life Bob Ives ‘69, and 16 parents including Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes and former chairs of the Bowdoin parents donation fund Stuart Shapiro and Janice Lee. “We commend these students for continuing to push despite the College’s refusal to productively engage with this issue,” it reads. “These students, as part of a growing worldwide movement, have demonstrated to our community that fossil fuel divestment is necessary, both morally and financially.”
“Just yesterday, Syracuse University, where President Mills received his PhD, announced the divestment of its billion dollar endowment from fossil fuels after students sat in,” said junior Allyson Gross. “Momentum is growing, and Bowdoin, as the college of the Common Good, needs to be a leader.”
This marks the third campus sit-in for fossil fuel divestment in three weeks, following occupations at Swarthmore College and the University of Mary Washington.
Read the demand of Bowdoin Climate Action’s Sit-In for Climate Justice