The following letter to Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust was sent by e-mail on Friday, October 24, 2014.
President Drew Gilpin Faust
Cambridge, MA 02138
Dear President Faust:
Earlier this week, the leadership of Hong Kong’s undemocratic government participated in a live, televised forum with student protesters about the future of democracy in the territory. At the very same time, throughout this week, students calling for fossil-fuel divestment at Harvard University have been engaged in a conscientious and well-organized fast—supported by many students, faculty, and alumni—after their legitimate calls for an open public dialogue with you, over the course of more than two years now, have been rejected. It appears that an open debate about democracy is less threatening to the leaders in Hong Kong and Beijing than the prospect of an open debate about fossil-fuel divestment—and the corrupting influence of fossil-fuel corporations on our American democracy—is to the administration of Harvard University.
I have a personal stake in this debate. I am a member of the Harvard College Class of 1990, deeply engaged in the Divest Harvard campaign, and as I write this, amazing as it may sound, I stand effectively banned from Harvard’s campus because I dared to protest peacefully against your administration’s position on fossil-fuel divestment and your lack of public dialogue with the students. My purpose here is to respectfully inform you that this Sunday, October 26, I’m coming back to campus in an open and conscientious violation of that ban.
On May 30 of this year, as I’m sure you will remember, I and three of my fellow Harvard alumni—holding degrees from the Business School, the Divinity School, the Law School and Kennedy School, and the College—stood silently in front of the stage where you were sitting in Sanders Theater, as you were about to address several hundred Harvard graduates attending their class reunions. With the support of many fellow alums engaged in the divestment campaign, we held a banner with the words “Harvard Alumni For Divestment.” We stood in solidarity with the students of Divest Harvard, and we stood for the kind of action necessary to address climate change, the greatest and most urgent human rights struggle of our time.