Thirteen students from Fossil Free Penn were "written up" Wednesday evening by the administration after refusing to leave College Hall when the building was scheduled to close, according to College sophomore and sit-in co-coordinator Zach Rissman and College senior Gavi Reiter.
College sophomore Abby McGuckin, another member of FFP, also confirmed that students were “cited for university infractions." University spokesperson Steve MacCarthy said he could not comment on "individual student conduct matters."
Rissman said eight or nine of those students slept in College Hall for the second night after 14 students slept in the lobby Tuesday night as well.
“Our goal in staying overnight is to put pressure on the administration and the Board of Trustees to see that we are here and we’re giving our time and our sweat and our energy and our mental capacity to put into everything we’re bringing to the table.” Reiter, former co-chair of the Student Sustainability Association at Penn, said.
Since they marched into College Hall’s lobby Monday morning with posters stating their demands, FFP says they have logged 100 students that have gathered in College Hall’s lobby.
“The fact that they’re not even considering the sacrifices that we’re making," Reiter added, "and not bringing these discussions to the table and not putting us on equal footing is disrespectful to the students."
On top of its two fundamental goals — first, the immediate divestment from the University’s endowment from all companies that are involved in the extraction of coal and tar sands; and second, to commence a plan for full divestment from all fossil fuel companies over the next six months — FFP wanted to engage in discussion with the administration on their decision not to divest.
Rissman said that FFP told the administration Monday morning that, had the administration not responded to the group's demands by 3 p.m. that day, the group would stage a sit-in overnight.
The administration then did respond to the group by saying that the group's demands were already addressed when the ad hoc committee held a vote last year to divest, which ultimately did not pass. This acknowledgement, however, was sufficient for FFP to withhold from their initial plan to stay overnight on Monday, and they returned home once the building closed.
FFP returned Tuesday morning, still hoping to get their demands met. Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Hikaru Kozuma met with FFP students on Tuesday and according to Rissman, Kozuma told FFP that the demands could not be met. Rissman said that, because it took the administration an entire day to speak with FFP to review their requests, FFP responded with four new demands.
“The fact that they will not even give us a logical reason as to why they will not divest," Rissman said, "and to see that impact not only us, but honestly the rest of the world, is honestly sickening to me."
Wednesday morning, Reiter said they met with Kozuma again who said no to their four demands. In response, students stayed in College Hall after closing hours, and that is when they were given citations.
“We have offered up four options, or opportunities, for them to come to the table and have a full discussion and they have rejected each of these opportunities to full consideration to talk,” Reiter said. “So we are sitting in again and we stayed past closing hours.”
Fossil Free Penn plans to continue pushing the administration to engage in conversation and come to the table for discussion.
“At the moment, I feel very ashamed of my university," Rissman said. "We are a university that is supposed to uphold the values that Ben Franklin set forward of honesty and of truth.”
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