This post originally appeared in EcoWatch and is reprinted with permission by the author.
In an emerging public relations nightmare for Washington University officials, the sit-in against Peabody Energy ties entered a historic third week, as students continued to press demands after a faltering statement released yesterday by Chancellor Mark Wrighton.
“We want to make it clear that we are not satisfied with this statement,” the Wash U Students Against Peabody countered. “We plan to continue to pressure Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Thorp until they end Washington University’s relationship with Peabody.”
Let’s face it: With growing national media attention, growing outrage over Peabody violations, and growing plans for nationwide rallies against Peabody on its shareholders meeting on May 8, the moment of truth for the chancellor and the board of trustees about Peabody’s toxic relationship with Washington University has arrived.
And this Peabody moment of truth has been years—even decades—in the making.
The Wash U student protests have been raising the ante for years—I’ve watched with amazement, over the last decade, as I’ve been chronicling Peabody violations around the world—including the Black Mesa tragedy, which I consider one of the worst human rights and environmental disasters in American history.
This much we all know: The Wash U students are on the right side of history, and at a certain point, Chancellor Wrighton and the board of trustees will end their denial and join the students’ clear-headed demands.
And it won’t be the first time.
Consider another date in May in Washington University history: May 9, 1952, when the board of trustees found it “increasingly difficult to ignore mounting public sentiment and maintain its segregationist policy,” and finally bent to the will of a long-time student movement to officially integrate.