Metro

Harvard students block doorway to school building in protest

Students from Harvard are protesting fossil fuel investments.
Handout
Students from Harvard are protesting fossil fuel investments.

Student activists from Harvard again planted themselves in front of the main entrance to the school’s administrative building on campus Wednesday morning as they continued their push for the university to pull its investments from companies tied to fossil fuels.

More than 30 students from Divest Harvard gathered at Massachusetts Hall, organizers said. They posted a banner that read “The Tide is Turning” on the side of the building in an effort to grab the attention of administrators as they filed into work.

The students are also protesting the recent hiring of Thomas Hollister as the school’s chief financial officer.

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Students from the group claim that hiring Hollister makes clear Harvard’s lack of interest in steering the university’s $36.4 billion endowment away from fossil fuel holdings.

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Hollister was once chief operating officer and financial chief for Global Partners LP, a company that distributes oil and gasoline. He left that job in 2013 and was most recently chairman of Tufts Medical Center’s board of trustees.

On Wednesday, students held a large flag that said “Former Oil Exec New Head of Finances.” On the flag were images of black oil droplets with dollar signs in the center.

“The types of connections that exist between people that work in that industry don’t go away,” said Harvard Divest spokeswoman Sidni Frederick.

Harvard officials did not immediately reply to requests for comment about the protest, but have previously lauded Hollister’s “wealth of experience spanning all areas of finance.” They have also said the school is committed to tackling climate change through its academics and policies.

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Frederick said students are prepared to stay in front of the building’s entrance “indefinitely.”

Campus police were lingering on scene as students stood at the entrance to the doorway, she said.

“A few members of the administration have stopped by, but we have not heard from the president, or anyone who has the authority to make a decision about divestment,” said Frederick.

Last month members from Divest Harvard launched a weeklong protest called “Heat Week,” which carried a similar message. During that week students and alumni hung banners from the windows of the administrative building, occupied the office of the Harvard Alumni Association, and threatened to withhold donations until their demands are met. Some faculty members also took part in those protests.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.