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Yale students invade president’s office demanding divestment

A group of Yale University students supporting fossil-fuel divestment began a sit-in today in the administrative hall where President Peter Salovey’s office is located.

The protest comes as students at Harvard University prepare for a weeklong blockade of the hall housing President Drew Faust’s office. Sit-ins have also been staged at Swarthmore College and Bowdoin College. The groups are seeking to force the schools to sell their holdings of oil, gas and coal stocks, which they say contributes to climate change.

Yale, which at $24 billion has the third-largest university endowment in the world, said in August that it won’t divest from fossil fuels. Instead the university in New Haven, Connecticut, said it would spend more on energy conservation and greenhouse gas reductions while communicating to money managers the importance of accounting for climate change in investment analysis.

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The group of almost 50 students staging today’s sit-in are demanding that Yale trustees reconsider the case for divesting and do so in a more transparent process, Chelsea Watson, an environmental studies major and one of the organizers, said in a telephone interview from Woodbridge Hall. The university’s undergraduates voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting in a referendum in 2013.

Tom Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, wasn’t immediately available for comment.