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Harvard and Yale Students Disrupt Rivalry Game to Push for Fossil Fuels Divestment

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Climate activists delivered a powerful message to university leaders when they spilled onto the field during halftime to disrupt the annual Harvard and Yale rivalry football game last week: Divest from fossil fuels.

Over 200 students and alumni stopped the game for more than an hour to protest both institutions and their investments in fossil fuels, including actor and Yale alumnus Sam Waterston. Police arrested 42 activists. Student group Fossil Free Yale started a GoFundMe to pay the fines and legal fees for those arrested.

“Nobody wins when our elite institutions profit from the destruction of our climate and the exploitation of communities on the frontlines of climate change,” the fundraiser states.

SEC filings last year showed Yale’s stock in natural gas provider Antero Resources at $78 million. In an editorial published in The Guardian, organizers Ilana Cohen and Camilla Ledezma estimate that, combined, Yale and Harvard are investing $1.2 billion in fossil fuels. Cohen and Ledezma called on faculty, alumni and community members to cease donations and get involved.

“We risked arrest on Saturday to challenge the system—the unsustainable status quo. Yet one moment of protest is far from enough. We’re not going anywhere, and now, we’re asking you to join us and take action,” they wrote

Both Harvard and Yale students first began pushing for the institutions to divest from fossil fuels in 2012, and this isn’t the first time protestors have been fined and arrested. Sit-ins last year at Yale led to the university arresting more than 80 students.

On Monday night, Cambridge City Council passed a resolution asking that charges against the protestors be dropped.

“I hope you will support me on this resolution, and support these protestors for their brave actions to bring attention to the climate crisis, and the importance of divesting from fossil fuels,” Cambridge Councilman Quentin Zondervan said prior to the vote.

The resolution passed, in an effort to signal solidarity from Cambridge City Council in students’ demands for universities to act on divestment.

Kaley LaQuea is an award–winning print and digital journalist who’s been creating content since 2008. She’s passionate about economic, environmental and social justice. She has an unhealthy relationship with caffeine and two cats: Totoro and Mononoke.