Divestment has been an issue at Boston College for years now. In 2013, the group BC Fossil Free was founded to promote sustainability on campus. Its attempts to advocate for divestment have continued over the years in a newly branded form, Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC). Throughout 2015, CJBC fought to gain recognition as a registered student organization (RSO) and held a number of protests. Eventually it was granted RSO status in September 2015. The group continues to call on the University to remove the portions of the endowment that are invested in fossil fuel companies. This past Tuesday, as part of a weeklong event, 11 demonstrators involved in the group stood on O’Neill Plaza as part of a silent protest. They held signs reading “No Coal” and “BC: Whose Side Are You On,” during the 15-minute breaks between classes. This demonstration will continue every day this week with the supporters remaining silent until the last day, when they will vocalize their concerns.
Sustainability and the long-term impacts of fossil fuels are serious issues that need to be addressed. CJBC hasn’t held a high-profile event since April, when it held an overnight vigil in front of Barat House, the office of University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. It is good that CJBC is returning to continue the discussion of these issues on campus. Holding events furthers awareness and discussion on campus and prevents the problems from flying under the radar.
One positive aspect of the event is the weeklong extension. Demonstrating, handing out flyers, and having a presence every day of the week is a good way to spread the message to as many people as possible. It also allows for increased attendance as the days pass. But, the first day’s turnout of 11 people was low, perhaps because of the spread-out nature of the event. As CJBC is advocating for divestment, something that the administration views as a potentially financially risky change from BC’s past policies, it should strive to show solidarity and strength from the student body on this issue. Higher attendance would make the events more noticeable to the administration. Spreading the message farther in advance and a wide-reaching social media campaign would help make these events more impactful.
Divestment remains an important BC issue that should be discussed and addressed, and CJBC should continue to plan events that both educate and spark conversation. This month’s planned talk by a professor about climate change and theology is a good step in extending the conversation. Although it isn’t a protest or demonstration, it continues to push the discussion forward and stress the connection between BC as a Catholic institution and the importance of addressing climate change.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor