Fossil Free Penn members said Monday they remain hopeful even after a four-day sit-in at College Hall last week yielded no concrete agreement with the administration to move forward with divestment.
“We felt that, even though the administration did not move on our demands, that we really succeeded in mobilizing the campus in support of our cause and proving commitment to fossil fuel divestment and climate action,” FFP co-founder and College senior Peter Thacher said.
Over the week, FFP said over 200 total students gathered in College Hall to demonstrate support for their cause. One hundred and thirty students protested on Thursday, with 100 students staying past the building’s closing hours at 6 p.m. and with 69 students “voluntarily writing their own names” on the form that the Office of Student Affairs violated University rules.
At that point, the group promptly exited at 7 p.m., leaving behind a document stating that “it has become clear that the administration of the University of Pennsylvania exhibits irrationality, hypocrisy, and immorality,” and calling on the administration to take three explicit actions by September of 2017 in order “to prevent another large-scale escalation.”
The sit-in demonstrated the depth of support for Fossil Free Penn’s movement, which has continued a years-long campaign pressuring the administration to divest from fossil fuels. In a referendum taken in March 2015, where voted, close to 88 percent of respondents supported divesting. Despite these results, the Board of Trustees September 2016 that they would not divest.
Starting this week, FFP will be returning to their regular schedule of holding one weekly meeting for the nine students on the coordinating committee and one weekly meeting for all of the 20 members of FFP.
The group will focus on retaining the support from the student body that it garnered last week for the FFP sit-in.
FFP plans on sending a large delegation to the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. on April 29. In 2014, FFP sent 110 students to protest the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, and Thacher said his goal is to match that with a delegation of 100-150 students marching in the D.C. later this month.
FFP plans on continuing to brainstorm ways of retaining their outreach to the Penn community, but members of the club are optimistic about the number of students that demonstrated their support of the cause and are optimistic about the future.
“It really puts a lot of pressure I think on the administration because they can no longer not even talk about it,” sit-in coordinator and College sophomore Zach Rissman said. “It was made relevant.”
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