fb-pixel Skip to main content

Anti-coal Harvard students block administration building doors

Students demanding that Harvard University publicly declare it will no longer invest in coal and other “dirty energy” industries blocked doorways at University Hall. Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff/File

CAMBRIDGE — A group of Harvard University students blocked doorways at an office building in Harvard Yard Wednesday, demanding that the administration declare it will no longer invest in coal and other “dirty energy” industries, an organizer said.

Watched over by several university police officers, the protesters positioned themselves in front of each doorway of University Hall, beginning around 5 a.m.

The group, called Divest Harvard, cited concerns about the environmental impacts of fossil fuel investments, particularly as the Trump administration seeks to ease restrictions on production.

“Our continued point and reason for rallying is that any investment . . . is an endorsement” of Trump’s “dirty energy agenda,” said Isa Flores Jones, one of the organizers.


Harvard currently has little or no investment in coal, but has not guaranteed that it will not invest in coal in the future, Divest Harvard said.

The university released a statement that read: “We agree that climate change is one of the world’s most urgent and serious issues, but we respectfully disagree with Divest Harvard on the means by which a university should confront it.’’

The university said it will “support its faculty, students and staff as they pursue a range of innovative and ambitious efforts to accelerate the world’s transition to renewable sources of energy.’’

In October 2013, president Drew Faust announced that Harvard had no plans to divest from fossil fuels, saying the university’s endowment is intended “to advance academic aims, not to serve other purposes, however worthy.”

Jones said the goal of the protest was to secure a meeting with the administration. The group was awaiting a response late Wednesday. Jones said the group was prepared to “escalate” if “demands are not met.”

Last May, the University of Massachusetts announced its endowment would sell off direct investments in fossil fuel companies. That did not include university-owned investment funds with portfolios that had stakes in fossil fuels. UMass said its move was a first for a major public university.


Maddie Kilgannon
can be reached at maddie.kilgannon@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaddieKilgannon. Aimee Ortiz can be reached at aimee.ortiz@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz.