Tufts Climate Action (TCA) hosted the ‘Rally for Climate Justice’ on Mayer Campus Center Lower Patio on Saturday, in part to urge the university to divest its direct holding in the fossil fuel industry. The rally took place on the same day as the March for Science in Boston, which was part of a series of national marches organized in reaction to President Donald Trump’s climate change denial and threats to cut research funding.
The rally began at 12:30 p.m. and ended around 12:50 p.m. About 45 students attended, according to TCA member Shana Gallagher. After the rally, TCA members and some students joined the March for Science, which took place in Boston Common from 1–4 p.m.
Thousands of people gathered for the march, and crowds filled up much of the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common. The main speakers included notable scientists and activists such as former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Gina McCarthy (G ’81) and Dean of Harvard Medical School George Q. Daley.
Gallagher, a senior, explained that TCA was looking to connect to the March For Science, though TCA is not a science advocacy group specifically.
“Even though the purpose of the march today was to stand up for science in much more of a political sense, which is very important, we wanted to connect that message to the fact that Tufts University is still actively profiting from climate change by being invested in fossil fuels,” Gallagher said. “We see that almost as a form of climate science denial as well because it seems like our administration is making a statement that climate change is not a problem or a priority.”
Similarly, Bianca Hutner, another TCA member, stressed the connection between TCA’s rally and March for Science. She claimed that both the Trump administration and Tufts are practicing a form of science denial.
“The link is still there because I think one thing that’s important is to understand how the climate denial that we see from the Trump administration is kind of what also we see at the Tufts administration as well, by refusing … to acknowledge the gravity of the issue,” Hutner, a junior, said.
Tufts administrators have said that the university will not divest its endowment holdings from fossil fuel companies. After a conversation with TCA last fall, the Board of Trustees decided against divestment, saying it would harm the university financially, according to an Oct. 25, 2016 Daily article.
More recently, after the passage of a Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate resolution two weeks ago calling for divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the university said in a statement that divestment “was not compatible with the university’s current manner of investing.”
Hutner added that the rally was also an effort to expand TCA’s influence on campus.
“It’s just important to get our presence back on campus because we haven’t had a rally event for a long time,” she said. “Divestment and fossil fuel investments are really still, and will always be, [important issues] until they are resolved.”
Hutner added that she feels the university has not addressed the issues properly.
“It’s been like they really just want to appease us … hoping we will go away,” she said.
Gallagher affirmed that TCA’s main objective is to drive the university to divest from fossil fuel investments and that the group will continue the effort in coming years.
“We really need to be taking the sort of action that is going to avert more ecological destruction and human suffering that’s already happening, and the divestment is the most important way that an institution like [a] university can do [this],” she said. “We are definitely going to keep fighting for it.”