Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley delivered the keynote speech at a divestment rally held Tuesday by Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC). He advocated for divestment from financial holdings in fossil fuels, but did not specifically call for BC to do so.
Originally scheduled to be held on O’Neill Plaza, about 100 students, faculty, staff, and alumni gathered instead in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room, where the rally was moved due to inclement weather.
“How can we be men and women for others if our Jesuit university is silent on the most important issue of our time,” read one of the many signs posted throughout the room. The “most important issue” is climate change and particularly BC’s continued investments in companies that perpetuate the issue of fossil fuels that degrade the environment.
“Climate change is not a joke. It affects everyone and everything,” said Sissi Liu, a member of CJBC and MCAS ‘17.
O’Malley began by urging the crowd that individual action is about leadership and that, although the dire circumstances of today’s environmental destruction can be discouraging, there is opportunity to rebuild and make new.
“Darkness is a great canvas,” O’Malley said, referring to the Trump administration’s recent actions to dismantle environmental progress by removing regulations.
He said, however, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A push toward green building, LEED certification, and an overall goal of carbon neutrality has begun to have an effect on politics, and such an effect leads to hope for the future of the planet.
“We all have an obligation to see, to judge, to act,” O’Malley said.
“Maybe next year at BC we can give up fossil fuels for lent,” he added in conclusion.
The rally, CJBC’s second of the semester following a post-inauguration walkout in January, featured Sachem Wampatuck Wompimeequin of the Mattakeeset tribe of the Massachusett nation, who also appeared at an event in Dec. 2016, as well as several other activists in the BC community.
University Spokesman Jack Dunn said in an email earlier this semester that BC’s position remains that the most effective way to fight the effects of climate change is through eco-friendly initiatives and reductions in energy consumption, rather than fossil fuel divestment.
Matthew Barad, a Standing Rock activist, opened the rally with an impassioned call to accept accusations of entitlement, as we are all entitled to ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—ideals that call for the eradication of enslavement to fossil fuels. He expressed how the inadequate amount of change regarding environmental destruction that has occurred over the past 10 years are depressing but ultimately curable by organizing and remaining steadfast in efforts for change.
Wompimeequin next took to the podium to articulate the dire need for indigenous people to be included in the conversations, actions, and policies concerning them. Environmental agencies continue to fail in their efforts because of this exclusion of indigenous people, and grassroots movements are the only true way to spark effective change for them.
“Reformation must be at the forefront,” Wompimeequin said.
Amelie Daigle, GMCAS ’18, represented Eradicate BC Racism at the event and built on the idea of bottom-to-top change through encouraging every rally attendee to connect by any and every means and from there gather momentum for organization and progress.
“Tomorrow’s problems will be solved from the bottom,” Daigle said.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor