This piece was originally published on NYU Local, the independent news blog of NYU. It was re-posted here with permission.
Last year, Occupy Wall Street was making headlines at NYU. We saw infamous walk-outs, elaborate and ridiculous drama over students visiting the protestors, and an episode of presidential back-talk never seen before.
Now, a new group of activists is looking to NYU President John Sexton in a movement that has the makings and spirit of a young Occupy. NYU Divest: Go Fossil Free!, a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni looking to end the university’s investments in fossil fuel companies, has been gaining momentum on campus. With the tagline, ‘President Sexton, Go Fossil Free!’ it is clear that the group is eyeing large-scale change directly from members of the administration.
“What the ‘Divest’ scheme is asking for is asking is to take all of NYU’s investments out of the fossil fuel industry directly within the next five years,” said Dr. Julianne Warren, an ecologist and professor in both Liberal Studies and Environmental Studies at NYU. “After that, we want to make efforts to reinvest in things that would help promote a solution to the problem.”
Divest NYU has many ties with OWS activists, and considers itself a subscriber in much of Occupy’s greater philosophy.
“Both Occupy and 350 [the organization that Divest sprouted from] understand that fundamentally, domination doesn’t work,” said Warren, who has working with a team of activists and students to draw up the demand divestment from the NYU administration. “Whether it’s of the earth by fossil fuel companies, or other whether its from dominating each other—economically, socially, politically.”
The crusade is a local offshoot of a larger movement founded by Bill McKibben, activist, prolific author, and eco-celebrity who established 350.org, an organization working to end American dependence on and emissions from fossil fuels. A few weeks ago, hundreds crammed into the Hammerstein ballroom on 34th Street to hear McKibben speak.