by Fossil Free Yale
On Wednesday, Sept. 25, 500 Yale students walked out of their classes at noon as part of the global week of climate strikes, claiming that business as usual cannot continue while Yale remains invested in fossil fuel companies and Puerto Rico’s debt. The students and community members, who marched to President Salovey’s office from Cross Campus, pointed to Yale’s political and economic influence and demanded that Yale divest from the fossil fuel industry and cancel its holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt.
At noon, students stood up in their seminars, lectures, and workplaces, spoke briefly about the urgency of the climate crisis and their reasons for walking out, and then led their classmates to Cross Campus for a rally. Many students walked out of introductory physics and biology lectures, microeconomics, and a class called “Natural Disasters,” all of which had course rosters of over one hundred people. Professors in Yale College, as well as the Law School, the Divinity School, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, canceled classes in solidarity with the protestors.
“We are in a moment of unprecedented youth mobilization for climate justice,” said Elea Hewitt, a member of the Association of Native Americans at Yale, who walked out of her Sex, Markets and Power lecture. “We feel we cannot continue to sit in our classes while Yale invests in companies that contribute to the climate crisis and exploit the people first affected.”
Speakers at the Yale rally included Adriana Colón-Adorno, a member of the Puerto Rican student group Despierta Boricua, who spoke about the effects of intensified storms on the island. A Yale School of Forestry student, Manon Lefevre, spoke about the linkage between the Amazon fires and Yale’s continued investments in fossil fuels. By the end of the rally, over 1000 Yale alumni and current students had signed a pledge not to donate to the university until they met the protestors’ demands.
The walkout of Sept. 25 followed a rally on the New Haven Green on Friday, Sept. 20 that drew 400 people. That event was led by the high schoolers from the New Haven Climate Movement Youth Action Team, and was part of the largest coordinated day of climate action in history, with 4,500 events in 150 countries and an estimated total of 4 million participants.