Today, students across the country walked out of classes to protest the environmental policies of the Trump Administration. Climate Justice at BC, Eradicate BC Racism, and College Democrats of BC led Boston College students “in solidarity with all those negatively affected by Trump’s rhetoric and campaign promises,” according to the Facebook event. The BC walkout was also meant to protest the investment of Boston College assets in fossil fuels and the administration's silence on issues of race and bigotry.
The former’s website states, “We are walking out of our classrooms because our universities can no longer continue to back the coal, oil, and natural gas companies who are celebrating Trump’s victory and committing the globe to extreme levels of warming and disaster.”
Dozens of Boston College students trickled into the Heights Room above Corcoran Commons to listen to speakers and watch a video explaining the purpose and nature of divestment campaigns. At 12:50, Faraz Shahidpour, MCAS '17, a member of Climate Justice at Boston College, opened the event and introduced the speakers.
Michelle Kang, MCAS '18, was the first to speak. She referenced the Trump administration's "war on honesty" and accused him of intentionally manipulating facts to suit his narrative. In particular, Kang alleged that Trump was aware of the threat of climate change but chose to publicly deny it and make policies that would further damage the environment. She cited how the new president previously applied to build a sea wall to protect one of his golf courses from rising sea levels, while his campaign was filled with climate denial rhetoric.
Kang was followed by other student speakers as well as an environmental activist. Alumni and parent Robert Ryan also spoke, citing how proud he was of the students who organized the walkout. But he was disappointed that the university, which generally stands by being "men and women for others," was not addressing what he saw as the greatest modern social justice issue.
"We want to put pressure on the administration," responded Shahidpour when asked what he hoped to accomplish with the event. "People are disheartened by the election of Donald Trump and we want to build the power of people and promote active citizenship."
Unlike some recent protests at Boston College that have resulted in disciplinary actions against students, this event was organized with the supervision of the Office of the Dean of Students and was formally registered as a campus event. Dean of Students Tom Mogan, along with a number of faculty, were in attendance.
"It's important that students have an appropriate forum to express opinions," said Mogan, who also said he attended to ensure the event was conducted properly and to hear about the issues students care about.
At the end, organizers passed out papers with the contact information of Massachusetts Senators and their offices so that students could call them to discourage confirming President Trump's cabinet appointments. In particular, the forms targeted Trump's appointee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, who has reportedly deep connections with the fossil fuel industry and has persistently denied the existence of climate change.
Organizers also encouraged students to personally email Father Leahy at [email protected] to try and make their voices heard and encourage him to divest Boston College's assets from fossil fuel companies, which organizers say he has specifically said he will not do.