Six Boston College students called for the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry outside the Pops on the Heights scholarship gala on Friday.
The student demonstration, entitled "Breaking Climate Silence," took place outside the Conte Forum entrance to Pops on the Heights at 6 p.m. The protest was sponsored by Climate Justice at Boston College, although it was not registered with the BC administration.
The demonstrators carried signs with messages including, "We can't set the world aflame when it's underwater" and "How can we be men and women for others if our Jesuit university is silent on one of the most important issues of our time?"
They also wore tape over their mouths to object to the university administration's lack of a response to past student demonstrations that called attention to the issue of divestment over the years.
In the past year, students expressed concerns about fossil fuel use and called for divestment at the "Climate Rally with O'Malley" last April, the "Stand with Standing Rock" rally in December, and the student walkout in January.
BC students are not alone in their call for divestment, as other universities in the Boston area, including Northeastern University and Boston University, have student organizations that advocate for divestment from fossil fuels.
According to the demonstrators, the university administration's endowment investments in the fossil fuel industry are contrary to Jesuit values due the impact of climate change on issues of environmental and social justice. BC administrators have not revealed the amount of money that they have invested in the fossil fuel industry, but they have stated publicly they do not plan to retract their investments.
"Climate change is fundamentally the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced. We have seen it with the hurricanes, flooding, and record heat waves across North America and Europe," said one of the demonstration's organizers, who spoke to The Gavel on the condition of anonymity. "It is ridiculous and hypocritical that Boston College can claim to be men and women for others and refuse to do anything about this issue. And even worse, they invest money in the companies that cause these problems."
According to the student organizer, students chose to demonstrate at the Pops on the Heights to send a strong message to the university administration.
"Pops on the Heights is a massive fundraiser at BC," said the student organizer. "If any one of the major donors were to say 'I don't support this; I'm not going to donate my money until BC divests from fossil fuels,' that would be huge. Fiscal pressure will allow us to make progress because, unfortunately, moral arguments don't work with this administration."
The demonstration received some attention from the people waiting outside the Pops on the Heights entrance, several of whom stepped forward to speak briefly to the students about why they were protesting. Although some attendants were dismissive of their efforts, others expressed admiration that the students were taking a stand.
The protest was shut down after approximately 10 minutes by the Boston College Police Department. However, the organizer reported that the students had achieved their goal of drawing parent and alumni attention to the administration's position on fossil fuel investment.
"We also made it clear that students are willing to stand up to the university," the organizer said. "When we are called to be men and women for others, we intend to act on it."