Fourteen members of Fossil Free Penn plan to spend Tuesday night in College Hall, College sophomore and sit-in Co-Coordinator Zach Rissman said
Armed with posters and sleeping bags, approximately 30 FFP members of Fossil Free Penn began their second sit-in at 9 a.m. Monday morning, intending to spend the night if necessary. But by the evening, they had left their posts.
They staged the sit-in outside the Office of the Dean at College Hall to protest the University’s investments in the fossil fuel industry. They planned to stay there until their demands were met, Rissman said Monday morning.
Hours after the demonstration started, senior members of FFP met with three administrators: Greg Rost, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, Joann Mitchell, the Vice-President for Institutional Affairs, and Hikaru Kozuma, the Associate Vice-Provost for Student Affairs, in a series of three closed-door talks regarding the group's demands, Rissman said.
He said he could not disclose the details of the discussion, but FFP temporarily suspended the demonstration out of “good faith” while the administration looked into a “logistical issue” that would dictate how talks would proceed. Although the group initially indicated that they would stay in College Hall indefinitely, they did not sleep in the building Monday night.
FFP resumed the sit-in Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. and College sophomore and Rissman said members of FFP left their second series of talks with administrators on Tuesday afternoon.
He said administrators who spoke on behalf of David Cohen, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, said that the board will not consider their demands.
This was because they were similar to the proposal that the Ad-Hoc committee debated and deemed not sufficient to divest last year.
Spokesperson for the University Steve MacCarthy wrote in an email "[Members of Fossil Free Penn] were told that their latest demands (immediate divestment from coal and tar sands, and full divestment from fossil fuel corporations within six months) were already effectively considered and answered appropriately through the University’s divestment process."
"It was made clear to the students today, as has been the case in the past, that the University would be happy to work with them to find additional ways to reduce Penn’s carbon footprint and lessen the need for fossil fuel use," he said. "We are in agreement with them on the importance of this issue. We simply disagree on strategy: they are demanding that Penn divest, and the Trustees have already determined that fossil fuel does not meet the University’s criteria for divestment."
FFP listed two demands in a Monday morning statement: the "immediate divestment of the University’s endowment from all companies involved with the extraction of coal and tar sands," and the "establishment and commencement of a plan for full divestment from all fossil fuel corporations within six months."
Rissman said the sit-in was in response to the University’s lack of engagement with the student body on the issue.
“We are sick of hearing an administration that contradicts what they ask for,” he said. “Penn advocates for environmental protection, but continues to invest in the fossil fuel industry, passively legitimizing their practices of harming our environment and harming marginalized groups.”
According to a Monday morning FFP press release, the group was "prepared to risk potential university disciplinary action."
This is a developing story. It was last updated at 10:00 p.m. Check back for updates.
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