Divest UMass Blog

Welcome to the Divest UMass Official Blog! Read on to see what we’ve been up to!

4/15/2016

Throughout the week long sit-in, we passed around a journal with a new prompt each day. Check out what people wrote below to gain a better understanding of why we are doing what we are doing and why over 500 people sat in Whitmore that week demanding climate justice.

Day Five: Describe a moment you’ve felt LOVE over the past few days of this movement

  • “When I walked out of Whitmore with my hands ziptied behind my back and a police officer escorting me through the doors, love wasn’t exactly what I was feeling in that moment, or at least expecting to feel. I was feeling slightly exhilarated and very purposeful. I have to say, hearing everyone standing outside shouting “WE LOVE YOU” over and over again at me and the other people being arrested kind of exploded some love fireworks in my chest. Oh my gosh! It’s basically a dream to walk past a crowd of people shouting that they love you. Pretty straight up. This experience of sitting in and going to jail/court has brought out so much love in me for all these true homies who care so deeply in such big ways. Thank you all!!”- HJ

 

  • “The first night when students were arrested we were all together. Someone started a chant:” this is what community looks like.” It captured all that I was feeling so deeply and powerfully in that moment.” -CG

 

  • “I felt love not just from the amazing people who have showed up to Whitmore this week but from folks who have been sending love and solidarity from all over the country. During the first night that the #First15 were arrested we have over 1000 people watching our live stream outside and knowing that we were not isolated or alone in this fight was so encouraging and filled me with love and hope!”

 

  • “I feel love when I turn the corner and first see the people sitting together. I feel love in the eye contact between strangers, and I feel love in the shared sacrifice that we are all making to be here. Most importantly I feel love by being around so many people who deeply and honestly care.”

 

  • “I feel love when at the rally on Thursday, there were two younger females that expressed unconditional support for the Divest movement. Being under 18, they were the only minors there (they said). It made me really happy that there are still people in the newer generations that have compassion for these civil rights issues that are still going on today, and I felt their love for the Earth and their community when their words reached my ears.”

 

  • “I felt love when I heard everyone speaking at the rally about feeling empowered. I felt love when we held hands and told our neighbors we supported them. I felt love when I entered the building and everyone snapped. I felt love when I stepped into the office of the student union and was greeted by everyone who shared a common interest. I was warmly welcomes to the cause.”

 

  • “I felt love in this movement in the way we kept seeing food sent in from people outside, some not even in this state! It was refreshing to come and sit down and see smiles even in a place where I felt out of my depth. It was so wonderful to see community members and people from all over at the rally.”

 

  • “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”- MLK Junior. I feel the love in this movement as a love for all humanity and our fellow living creatures living here on this planet. I think the only way to win is to stand up to the powerful interests with peaceful protest and love. I see the love in the passion, dedication and sacrifice from all those involved that put their bodies on the line, getting arrested, sitting for days on end in Whitmore and carrying their voices from this place to across the world.”- Rob Kearns

 

  • “Proud to be in union, gratified to take action in love with transformative resistance.”-Alex Olson

 

  • “I felt love so strongly yesterday when we left the building and were greeted with a crowd. Hearing the speakers passionately talk about the way they do this and why we need to continue made me feel incredibly connected to my community and love for for all the people willing to devote their time to the cause.”

 

  • “I have felt so much love with this fantastic group of activists that I wrote myself a note to remember it all: Hold on to this feeling. This feeling of power and community and kinship you feel with every person you encounter. Be a light that radiates positivity and friendship wherever you go. Draw in strangers with the warm glow of your light. Hold on to this feeling of limitless. You can talk to anyone you’ve known for ages. Everyone is with you, on your side. I now realize the key isn’t just to give no fucks about what people think, but to not worry that others will perceive your radiance as loud or intrusive or annoying or weird or strange. Hold onto the belief that inside everyone you encounter there is a light waiting to shine forth and that you have the power to set it free. You really do. By breaking free and complimenting that person and being genuinely kind and gentle and loving you are giving that person an opportunity to do the same. You have the power to make someones whole day, week or month just by putting yourself out there. You can initiate that positive interaction by speaking up and being present and enthusiastic in all things. Most people will admire that and even be inspired to do the same. You have so much power to do good in this world. Don’t forget that. And if you ever need a reminder, watch the videos you took of this divestment protest and rallies and be reminded of the community you are a part of and realize that your entire world can be that way only if you let your light radiate out of your smile and the sparkle in your eyes and the ringing of your laughter and the gentle touch of your hands and the warmth of your words. Hold onto that feeling and never forget it.” -Marissa Mockson

 

  • “Faced arrest, probation, the UMPD, hours of community service, but I”M STILL HERE because I believe that the danger we face which is climate change is far worse than what I’ve endured this week. This group is so supportive and so strong, there is not way we can’t win.”

 

  • “I wasn’t planning on doing this but now that I’m here I’m glad I came”

 

  • “Because administration can’t ignore the power of students any longer.”

 

  • “I’ve been here every day of the occupation and ever day my conviction and motivation towards this action increased. I wasn’t planning on joining when I first heard about it, but I have turned out every day and convinced more people to show up because the administration is not listening to the needs and interests of the community it is supposed to represent. We make these demands because if UMass will not do the right thing, we need to grow our power and effect change ourselves.”

 

  • “I have sat in for four days and helped bring people inside for one day and throughout this whole escalation I have seen similar faces and I feel connected to everyone in this hallway. Shout out to the leaders and organizers who have been on the frontlines. Shout out to those who have been arrested. Shout out to the people sitting in. We are all HERE and loud and powerful. We will win. I feel the love right now!”

 

  • “This is my first day. My friend has been here and told me about what was going on and I knew I had to be involved. All the work people have been doing is amazing! Glad to be here with these awesome people!”

 

  • “I have rallied and sat in this past week, and the sheer passion and dedication of everyone involved has truly inspired and moved me greatly.  I am looking into more ways to get involved in solving climate injustice and enacting real change! I’m not only doing this for UMass or for our community, our environment, or our world.- I’m staying here and will continue to stay here because of LOVE. This movement is happening because of love and strength- and that is POWER.”

 

  • “What we are doing is so BRAVE and POWERFUL!”

 

  • “Climate change dangers are far greater than those we face sitting in this building.”
  • “It is beautiful to see so many smart and committed students filling these halls. They will know that their actions are unacceptable, and we will help them see that.”
  • “This is my first time protesting. I’m thrilled that this is the cause, the intersectionalities between environmental justice and social issues lie within fossil fuel consumption. It’s ambitious, but hopefully this student power will lead to change.”
  • “I am sitting in because I believe that climate change is important, possibly the most important. It seems simple. This is a problem and we need to fix it now.”
  • “I felt love when I talked with my office-mates about the movement (my 5th day sitting in) and we found our mutual respect for the movement and immense respect for the organizers of the sit-in who have done an amazing job keeping this protest in line, focused and direct. I couldn’t get them to show up with me, but I was happy to know they’ve got our back and that all of us here are representing the students – even those who can’t make it.”
  • “I LOVE YOU ALL!”
  • “Back and sitting for THE PEOPLE.” – Ellyse Maynard
  • “As a lead strategist for Divest Smith College, I’m sitting in for fossil fuel divestment because I believe that, if colleges and universities are to remain “moral pillars” of society they need to align their money with their morals. We can’t justify explicitly financially supporting and implicitly morally supporting an industry that perpetuates climate change, destroys communities around the globe, and corrupts the democratic process in this country. I believe that institutions of higher education cannot be considered leaders if they exist as individualistic corporate oligarchies. We need our schools to act as concerned citizens, not as corporations. In order to solve the greatest injustices of our time, we need to look not just at who is being harmed, but also at who is profiting from that destruction. Public universities like UMass have a distinctive moral imperative to act like citizens and to act boldly on climate change by divesting from the corruption, misinformation, and injustice of the fossil fuel industry. “– Gabbi Zutrau
  • “I am an MFA student and graduate student employee, teaching College Writing 112. A student of mine has been involved in the sit-in, and her dedication inspired me – and a couple of other students – to come and participate. I think it’s a great example of classroom and campus community in action, everyone working together to make a concrete change.” – Kate Berson
  • “I am a UMass student studying socioeconomic data science focusing on Latin America. I am sitting in as a voice to all the people who’s land, water, or lives have been negatively effected by large fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil both globally and nationally. Too many lives have been lost and too many people continue to suffer because of these companies. The class war needs to end and we need to switch to renewable energy for the sake of our planet.” – Keegan Whitehair
  • “I am sitting here in hopes that we will have a better tomorrow. We need as many people joining together to put an end to the mistreatment of our planet. It will take all of us in order to ensure a better tomorrow.” – Matthew Quaglia
  • “I am sitting here because I take pride in receiving an education at UMass, but their investment and support of fossil fuels goes against beliefs, my studies, and the reason I enrolled here. I came to UMass as an undeclared student based on their sustainability efforts as a large public institution. Now, as a sophomore I am double majoring in Sustainable Community Development and Sustainable Food and Farming. To me, it’s extremely hypocritical, irresponsible, and unethical for a university such as UMass to be investing millions into the same industry that they are teaching us is wrong with the world. I’m sitting here to show UMass that this is the direction the world is headed, and it is time for us to lead and create the change we talk about.” – Chloe Mawn
  • “I feel love sitting here in Whitmore! So much love through solidarity. People from all over showing up for JUSTICE is the best demonstration of love! We have love and hope for each other and our earth and our disadvantaged brothers and sisters and fellow humans.”
  • “I continue to feel love as I see more and more people joining the sit-in. At one point, over a dozen people from my floor were sitting with me. Every person in this hallway is carrying such energy and power and love, and I am grateful for each and every person.”
  • “This is a place full of love and joy. The happiness around this comes with the suffering we have gone through. The greater the suffering the greater the happiness. Let’s keep our heads up.”
  • “So many beautiful souls here for a beautiful cause.”
  • “Empowerment comes from the truth within us all. It is hard when the mind is silent. This truth is what brings us all here, to devote to something other than our own interest.”
  • “Feeling love RIGHT NOW!!! As a high schooler it’s simply so inspiring to see the older generation of youth showing such poise and strength for what they believe is right. I have no doubt that movements like this will be an inspiration to the youth of my generation, and the generations to come.” – ES4/14/2016: Day Four

Day Four: What goals are you setting and moving toward with your work here? What ideas are centering? Who benefits?

  • “I’m truly excited to simply be a part of a community willing to organize and act together towards a progressive goal empowering individuals and finally demanding that an institution take responsibility for what it is invested in. I’m really proud of everyone here. I’m impressed and humbled by all of the hard work Divest has put into this and all community members using their time to show their support. Thank you, you are my hero.”

 

  • “I am trying to help push my university to take the next step in moving the world to a sustainable future. Through the investment in and subsequent use of fossil fuels, we are destroying the only place we have”

 

  • “Thinking about global justice, divestment, and my body in this space in connection with others. Thinking about youth, the energy, rebellion, and the way all of these are grounded in a collective commitment to love. Thinking about love a lot.”

 

  • “Taking money out of oil in order to decrease net human suffering. It is a small amount, but represents a small step to a big process.”

 

  • “Divestment is about power and justice. We have an opportunity to act as a university to make the change we want to see in the world. When conditions become so morally repugnant, students have the choice to stand up and sit or be complicit in an industry that is literally killing the Earth. Peace, love, and power to the people.”

 

  • “I am here as a member of a community that has a powerful voice. We the ones whose lives will be affected by catastrophic climate change unless we change the way we relate to out planet and our fellow humans. I am proud to be a member of a community that seeks to change the way things are done from the ground up in such a brave and powerful demonstration of hope and solidarity.”

 

  • “I did not wake up today intending to feel loved and powerful and awake and supported. As a member of a much smaller school with the same cause in mind, Divest Smith College, I have wanted to cry several times throughout today. The efforts behind the movement today inspire me and I am honored to be a part of it. I am moved to tears not because I am sad, but because I fucking know that this is possible.”- Cheers, Sarina

 

  • “Dear everyone! Thank you so much being here. It means a lot to me and many of the other Divesters appreciate you being here and in solidarity with us. We all understand that you are all busy and have to take care of yourselves but it means so much that you are doing this. Thank you for fighting for millions.”-A

 

  • “This is a model of what we need to be doing much more in all kinds of institutions of power, to feel the grassroots peoples’ power that is ours to begin with. Thanks to all of the incredible folks who have sustained this mobilization over many years.”

 

  • “I came here on Tuesday basically because I had some spare time and now I’ve been here for multiple days. Huge HUGE praise to all the organizers!”

 

  • “I came into this sit in with no idea really what this movement was about. I have never been to a sit in before but I have love and appreciate the energy from everyone. After coming into this I have a whole new perspective on sit ins and peaceful protesting.  hope they listen and #Divestment happens here!”- Paul

 

  • “Fuck yea!”- Emily

 

  • “After years of “fighting against climate change” I’m actually fighting for what I believe in, and fighting to make the world a better place. Lets #Divesttherest”- Caitlin Cullen

 

  • “Nothing should matter more to us as humans than the Earth that sustains us! It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to defend the planet and fight against the destructive industries that are most responsible for climate change. We cannot wait any longer! I often feel extremely hopeless and upset about the climate crisis, but this sit in is the first thing I’ve ever seen in person that has given me hope. I love this beautiful planet and I love all beautiful people here and everyone is supporting us. I hope our school’s leaders will have the courage to open their hearts and do what is right for out futures. Climate change is an issue for all of us, and I hope our leaders will see that this can no longer wait. We must stop supporting destruction.”-Melissa Bonaccorso

 

  • “I am here participating in this monumental movement because I am genuinely passionate about securing a more stable and enjoyable future for the generations to come. I am excited to be a part of such a powerful group of students. We can and will take our money out of the fossil fuel industry.”- Sage King

 

  • “I am here because I refuse to be part of a university that claims to be a leader in sustainability, but continues to invest in fossil fuels. Fuck hypocrisy”

 

  • “I’m here because I think climate change is an issue that crosses so many intersections in our personal lives, even though it’s sometimes portrayed as a bigger than life issue. But also, for a movement to bring together SO many different communities…wow! It shoes the kind of power we have individually and collectively, and that thought is really empowering to me.” -SAS

 

  • “I am centering the communities of color first nations communities who are most affected but climate change”

4/13/2016

Day three of the Whitmore Sit-In (over 230 people were inside at one point!): “What makes you feel powerful?”

  • “Seeing all these folks around, whether I know them or not and feeling connected to a real relevant issue makes me feel powerful. Community, acceptance, and love.”- Joseph Cecci

 

  • “Knowing we are on the right side of history, seeing our numbers grow, and setting this precedent for future campus organizing makes me feel powerful.”-Chris Raabe

 

  • “Seeing such a huge group of people grow in such a short amount of time proves how impactful student power is!”

 

  • “Knowing the truth of myself”

 

  • “Seeing and feeling all of the energy that has emerged from our campus during these past few days. I feel powerful when I look down the hall and there are people as far as I can see. I feel powerful knowing that there are thousands of people watching and support us”- Kayleigh Boucher

 

  • “Feeling this people power all around me and seeing with my own eyes what the united actions of a few students can achieve.”

 

  • “Seeing everyone here, supporting this movement and wanting to see change. We are here to make change, and we have so much people power. The passion in myself and in my peers makes me feel powerful.”-Rhianna Zadravec

 

  • “Being part of something bigger than myself for the right reasons. There is so much community and love here. Everyone is so passionate. We have power!!” -Jordan Lake

 

  • “Initiating real change that will be felt immediately for a global cause through pressure that students can put on administrations together.”

 

  • “The number of students showing up today makes me feel powerful!”-Matt D’Amico

 

  • “I’m surrounded by new and old friends and we’re all in this together!”

 

  • “The passion and dedication of the people around me and fighting for this cause all over the country” -Libbie Farrell

 

  • “The love that fuels our movement”

 

  • “Feeling completely supported by 100+ people- many of whom I’ve never met before, but look forward to seeing again!”

 

  • “The amount of support that we are getting, the intense sense of community.”

 

  • “Seeing students run this shit!”

 

  • “I feel powerful when a collection of people gather in love and unity, when we value uniqueness and also celebrate similarities.”

 

  • “I feel powerful when I/we connect with the Earth!”

 

  • “Participating in the ecology and nature we’ve tried to remove ourselves from!”

 

  • “The encouragement gained from seeing so many people making sacrifices to prioritize something important.”

 

  • “I feel powerful when I realize that I/we really can make a difference. I feel powerful when I can get my friends to come and join the movement.”

 

  • “I feel powerful when I am with people who know we’re on the right side of history.”

 

  • “Doing what I feel is right.”

 

  • “I feel powerful when I am part of a community that creates space for critical dialogue and affirmative action, that works towards more sustainable and ethical futures.”

 

  • “Being surrounded by loved ones in a community that truly cares about me.”

 

  • “Standing up and fighting back for the things that I believe in.”

 

  • “Supporting causes that promote equality, sustainability and environmental responsibility.”

 

  • “Being forward-thinking.”

 

  • “Knowledge”

 

  • “being able to address material inequality, subverting business as usual, being loud, being loved, condemning and resisting white supremacist capitalist hertero patriarchy. “

 

  • “Standing in solidarity with others as we fight for important causes! The peoples climate march made me feel powerful and Divest groups make me feel powerful.”

 

  • “Doing things unexpected of a 5’2″ female: speaking up, being a badass.”

 

  • “Being part of a growing movement for social justice.”

 

  • “Demanding some sort of justice for the 5.1 million deaths per year caused by climate change, fueled by our investments.”

 

  • “I’m still here… This is my third day sitting in and I don’t plan to stop. Everyone I’ve talked to- professors, staff, students- are encouraging me and wanting to get involved. It is so empowering and gives me much hope that UMass can and won’t continue to take our opinions and power for granted.”-Sonny

 

  • “Being in community.”

 

  • “Feeling empowered by people who care about me. Caring about other people.”

 

  • “Can only be for a little less than an hour, but way glad I came.”

 

  • “#feelthebern”

 

  • “#DivesttheRest”

 

  • “Love gives me life”

 

  • “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”-Jimi Hendrix

 

  • “Ancestral knowledge, real people, having people want me to win, wanting them to win.”

 

  • “Being involved in something much greater than myself/the power of numbers.”

 

  • “knowledge and empowerment.”

 

  • “having a plan and moving forward collectively towards a unified goal.”

 

  • “Knowledge makes me feel powerful. Being part of something greater than myself makes me feel powerful. Being heard makes me feel powerful. Helping to affect change makes me feel powerful.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because I am inspired by the students organizing the Divest UMass campaign. I have been an activist on campus in previous years but out of touch lately while writing my dissertation. So when the sit-in began it caught me by surprise. Basically it comes down to NOW is the time to act. We sit in now because it is too late tomorrow. It is up to students and youth to demand our future back from those who have taken it away.”-Tim Sutton, Grad Student Dept. of Communication

 

  • “Being a part of something bigger than myself and knowing that the community I’m surrounded by in this movement will not stop until justice is achieved.”

 

  • “Finding spaces where I can express myself.”

 

  • “Working with a group of people with a single cause- singing, chanting, and believing together.”

 

  • “Being surrounded by a community that supports my beliefs.”

 

  • “Love community and heal the world.”

 

  • “Sit, read, write, and communicate with the people to support those that aren’t given that privilege.”

 

  • “I’m here for the greater good of the planet. There is power in numbers!!”

 

  • “Standing for my future as well as those of countless others. We need to take a stand together!”

 

  • “I am here to support the cause, my friends involved, and a better UMass.”

 

  • “Sitting in this hallway for the 3rd day in a row with all these committed and amazing people makes me feel powerful! Students do have a say in how this school is run and this proves it.”

 

  • “I am here for the future of my and everyone else’s world and to support those of us who are willing to put themselves on the line for the cause.”

 

  • “I’m here for the future of our planet.”

 

  • “I am here because I am tired of many people of color’s lives and livelihoods being negatively affected by the selfish and disregarding acts of these huge companies. Not only are they killing our earth, they are killing our people in one full sweep.”

 

  • “I fear for the future of the next generations coming, changes need to happen ASAP”

 

  • “It’s about principle and basic humanity. Who am I not to fight for humanity?”

 

  • “What makes me feel powerful: doing what others told me I couldn’t, building community and watching people grow: watching/helping make a dream become a reality.”

 

  • “I feel powerful when I look around and see all the people around me standing together and making shit happen!”

 

  • “I feel powerful knowing that we have a powerful generation of people who are radical enough to care about our own future, our own people, our own planet.”

 

  • “People coming together, creating community, supporting each other and really fighting together. Collective power!”

 

  • “Being in a space full of people challenging a system and working towards a goal.”

 

  • “I feel powerful knowing that I am fighting for what is right (both for the people and the planet)!”

 

  • “Knowing that my values and beliefs are matching with my actions!! Also knowing that I am not doing this alone.”

 

  • “When I have a say in decisions that will impact my future and can work towards structural system wide change.”

 

  • “Knowing that my body and where I put it has the ability to disrupt university business and affect change!”

 

  • “Finding a place where I fit, being heard.”

 

  • “I feel powerful partaking in real action. I’m not just sharing Facebook posts and complaining over dinner. I’m making a real difference. Hundreds of people can come together and change our culture and dependence on fossil fuels. The love filling these walls is remarkable, and it gives me hope that we can continue to fight for climate justice. And we will succeed.”

 

  • “I feel powerful being a part of something bigger than myself: college students coming together to make a change for the better. I am so proud of the amazing people who have worked so hard on this campaign, putting in countless hours of hard work and planning. I feel powerful because I get to be part of such a great movement. “

 

  • “I feel powerful when the use of power is done right, when it is in just hands. I feel powerful when with others in a community of compassion, inspiration and aspiration. I feel powerful when I am kind to myself and true to my direction.”

 

  • “I left for a moment to empty out a thing of compost I started. When I came back I walked up the stairs and down the hall and then I turned the corner. Turning that corner is the most empowering thing. To turn and see a hallway full of beautiful people sacrificing so much to sit in solidarity and for the idea that collective power cannot be defeated. And to know that is just the beginning. That makes me feel powerful.”

 

  • “I feel powerful when I can do something not only just to help me, but to help others. I feel powerful when my voice is heard. I’m really happy to be a part of something that can actually change things. We can’t live on this planet if we keep destroying it.”

 

  • “I feel powerful sitting in solidarity with so many other students. I feel powerful every time I see our actions make a difference-big or small-for the betterment of our community.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because you can’t put a price on human lives. I am sitting in because my peers and I have the power to make a difference for communities that can’t be heard. The time is now to protect the earth that sustains us, and the rest of human race.”- Jess Whitney

 

  • “I am here because I want to help the future generations of people who are going to have to endure the effects of climate change.”

 

  • “What I find amazing about this movement is how unselfish it is, it is a movement for everyone- especially the people of the future. If I have the ability to do something to help the Earth, why not?”- Stephanie Richards

 

4/12/2016

On day two of the sit in we asked, “what will you lose in the climate crisis?” As the number of entries increased, people stopped answering the question directly but continued sharing what brought them there and how they were feeling about the sit-in. Here is what they wrote:

  • “I think the only real answer to this question is everything. Oftentimes people focus on ecosystems and the environment without realizing that people- especially underprivileged people- are being killed every day because of climate change. As people we are directly dependent on the environment and these ecosystems.”- Abby Nash, UMass Amherst

 

  • “Personally, I will lose the entirety of my home-base. Long Island, New York is a 118 mile long island which will be mostly under water sooner than predictions state, I believe. Especially the homes directly on the coast. I’m scared of losing my homeland. I’m scared for the marginalized people who are placed below profit, and losing their livelihood. I am heartbroken by the ebbing loss of culture. “-Samantha Rose Gerdes, UMass Amherst

 

  • “If we are one with the earth, like all the microscopic cells are one with our bodies, then we have more than a lot to lose.” – Evan Stangl

 

  • “Despite all the horrible shit we’ve done to the Earth (as humans) we have a whole lot of beautiful potential that’d be lost if we don’t turn the climate crisis around. “-Benji

 

  • “It’s not as much a question of what I will lose as it is what will be lost. The nature of climate change is such that its root causes and ultimate impacts are borne by the collective. Though even that language reflects a reality different than the one in which “we” in a collective sense exist. There are those who bear a greater responsibility for the currently unfolding than others, and often those least responsible are the first to feel the direct impacts and the most vulnerable to a changing climate. Climate crisis is very much a present reality for large swaths of humanity, and while those of us privileged enough to reside in Western Nations may not feel direct impacts for decades yet, it is important to recognize the multi-layered and multi -faceted character of climate change and subsequent climate crisis. This is not to suggest, however, that humanity is the only realm of existence implicated and threatened by a changing climate.  Rather, the nonhuman “nature” as popularly constructed is a hostage in “mans” century-long struggle to dominate and subjugate nature. Nearly 1/3 of total biodiversity on our planet has already disappeared and tens of thousands of more are facing existential threats.”

 

  • “My home- the parts of Hawaii and sea level. My Family- who will face more economic and political marginalization.”

 

  • I will lose me. The Earth is me. The Earth is us. As Prince Ea says, “we must globally warm our hearts and charge the climate of our souls and realize we are not apart from nature, we are a part of nature.”

 

  • “Personally, the things I will “lose” may indeed be written off as material money- the cost of living will go up. Certain fruits/imported foods that cannot grow/be exported in the same capacity. But what we are sure to lose is the integrity and beauty that does exist on this planet. The deaths of millions of people, the extinction of plant and animal species, and the hope that was can build a more equitable and just future.”

 

  • “To understand what I will lose requires all of us to open our eyes, ears, expand our hearts, feel compassionately for the human lives gasping for air to breath, food to sustain, water to drink. The Earth we ground ourselves on and within is not indestructible, we are actively destructing our homes. The homes of those with hands that build up our soil and care for one another, hands that do not hold responsibility for the destruction of their homes but are most harmed from the climate crisis. What I will lose is what we will lose. What we can and must fight for is building our strong beautiful power.”

 

  • “The climate crisis is underneath + within every other crisis–In a personal self-focused way, I will lose the ability to buy cheap fruit + vegetables, to pay for gas and use a car, I will lose the privilege of NOT being personally affected by the climate crisis–I’m sitting in because of the huge # of ways that I have not yet lost things in a personal way through the climate crisis, and the huge # of lives that are, and have historically been killed because of the way the climate crisis forgets marginalized people. Skipping class + maybe getting a bad grade is a tiny thing in comparison w/the massive losses of the climate crisis”

 

  • “The ability to choose, pursue alternatives to survival, breath, grow, feel peaceful.  In the climate crisis I’ll lose all of the things that others are already unable to have, such as clean water.  The problem runs so deep that I think massive sacrifices are necessary & will be forced upon us if we don’t take the warnings as opportunities for change. The short answer is that I will lose everything from happiness to life.”

 

  • “What will I lose? Everything. Desertification, insanely intense coral reef bleaching,  ocean acidification, fish stock depletion, global & especially rainforest deforestation, barely any biodiversity, and so much more. And all of this is happening RIGHT NOW.”

 

  • “We are in the era called Anthropocense because humans have drastically changed so much just in the last 100 years. If we don’t make change RIGHT NOW in the next 20 years will be the danger zone characterized by frequent & unpredictable storms, hurricanes, floods, droughts, agricultural collapses, etc. I am doing this for every ecosystem element, the fish and wildlife dangerously endangered, the next generation who will inherit this depleted planet and for my life 10-20 years from now leaving me terrified, anxious and deeply saddened at every moment.  Keep with your word and take bold action and leadership like the university deep down I know you are and can be.”

 

  • “Hi! I am sitting in today (4/12) because we live in a world where fossil fuels are the capitalists’ answers to keeping big business booming, turning Mother Earth’s elements into privatized commodities and tearing apart communities of people and other living things. I am sick and tired of this planet giving into capitalism, big business industrialization instead of learning how to work to change the infrastructure & turn capitalism into a system which feeds the people & the planet. Divest is just one part of this monumental transformation.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because the climate matters. Our solidarity in this issue matters. We can’t keep living in the interest of capitalism because other things are more IMPORTANT! We need to be able to drink the water, breathe the air, eat the food and enjoy beautiful wildernesses and this won’t happen if we continue to burn. I’m here because everyone deserves to be heard and we have something to say! DIVEST ❤ ❤ <3”

 

  • “Hey there! I”m sitting in today 4/12 and until we see a commitment to our demands because I think it’s obvious how fucked up it is that my own university continues to invest in fossil fuel which is incontrovertibly linked to social, racial, environmental and economic injustice. I think that it’s perhaps even more fucked up that the reason this can continue is because admin (and even students) expect the UMass community to be too busy or too used to being told we won’t or don’t organize. I want to change the precedent and shift the balance of power. I want the Board of Trustees, Woolridge, Meehan, the UMass Foundation and all of those who think they can make unjust decisions to think twice and feel held accountable by our student body.  So much love for the student body and everyone who has taken ACTION

 

  • “I’m sitting in because its time we use our privilege as students to act on what we claim to believe in.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because the fate of our planet should be our central concern in all things. I’m sitting in because corporations are allowed to destroy our world. I’m sitting in because corporations-who’s only aim is to make money-are not people & should not have rights and should not have any say in an educational institution.  I’m sitting in because I’m angry that this is how things are done in America.  I’m angry that I’m a part of an organization that is involved in the active destruction of our natural resources.  I’m sitting in because it’s the only thing I can do, the only way for my small voice to be heard about the roar of money. I’m sitting in because I care and unfortunately this small act of defiance is the only way that we can be heard.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because I feel it is hypocritical for a highly regarded state-funded institution to teach one thing and do the other: teach about the dire need for sustainable change and to address the climate change that continues to grow worse and worse, yet still have investments and interests in fossil fuel that is one of the main culprits of our problems.”

 

  • “It’s important to invest in something we, as students, a university, and just simply as people can support morally.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because this is an urgent issue that needs to be resolved RIGHT NOW. the more people join in, the more we will be heard, and it’s time for people to listen!”

 

  • “The time has come to stop funding injustice. I don’t want to belong to an institution that profits off of dirty money. It’s time for administrators to LEAD WITH US. It is our responsibility to make change as educated, privileged individuals, just because we are not feeling the repercussions today we must fight for a just, healthy, equitable future.”

 

  • “Why am I sitting IN? Aside from the moral problems associated with institutions investing both student’s and taxpayers money without consent we are brought to learn that these investments are to the fossil fuel industry no less.  This is an archaic and antiquated technology which is inhibiting progress for the future.  When outsiders think of this institution they immediately think of strong, educated +progressive values all of which do not meet the standards in which your investment politics run by.  Being on the right side of history is important.  Being a leader and example of other college institutions is even more so.  Be the leader you’re known to be.”

 

  • “At a time when the scientific community couldn’t be any clearer, that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already having devastating impacts across the globe–we need full divestment.  What gives me hope is when I look around this room and see the energy of my fellow peers, who are so dedicated to creating a better world.  We need full divestment. I love you all!”

 

  • “I AM HERE BECAUSE I AM A HUMAN LIVING ON A PLANET WHOSE FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN! We are all living in a time of enormous CLIMAX–this is not a joke, this is not the beginning–this is a cumulative affect of all we have done as a collective.  This is OUR HISTORY, OUR PRESENT, + OUR FUTURE. I am here because I am alive and our mother is in danger.  If we do not change the paradigm NOW our light will soon burn out.  This is ABOUT OUR LIFE ON EARTH.  This is about our animal comrades, our families, our oceans, the air we breath, the people who are victims of this planetary oppression, THIS IS ABOUT YOU.  THIS is a movement of life death.  This is about IS or ISNT. We have to continue to give love to our planet/life giver or we will certainly have our flame extinguished.  Natural disasters, desertification, warmth of earth…we must recognize that we are a plague upon Earth, but we have other options- opportunity to be  a friend, child, and organ of Earth, working for the greater good of the total.  We are ONE, we are all apart of the same organism of Earth.  As long as we feel invincible, invisible, separate or BETTER we will fall.  THIS IS ABOUT US.  RECLAIM CAMARADERIE WITH EARTH! Divest from the practices which propel us towards darkness.  Let’s fight for LIFE +LOVE= not DEATH.  Divest UMass + the rest will follow (hopefully 🙂 ).  Love the world. Love yourself <3.”

 

  • “To sit is a lost art in this world but there are a few who still practice.  I came to join you all because I wanted to sit with the people. You all shared your positive energy and enthusiasm and I appreciate both the fiery energy of your spirit and the urging for more peace in this world.”

 

  • “I’m sitting here because it feels right.  There is so much going on all the time it is hard to figure out how to support seeing positive change in the world–but all it really needs is people supporting each other.”

 

  • “I”m here to support UMass DIvest. YOur campaign is connected to the campaign to divest the state pension fund from fossil fuels. As a 65 yr old retired teacher, I don’t want my pension fund invested in dirty fossil fuels.  Many of your profs and other UMass staff are involved in this campaign to move Mass away from investing in the past and forward to investing in renewables.  If UMass divests, it will give a huge boost to our state campaign to divest the pension fund.  So I’m here to cheer you on!” divestourpensionsnow.org Climate Action Now

 

  • “I’m here because in order to move forward in sustainability and environmental awareness our campus, country and world needs to make systematic changes such as fossil fuel divestment. #DivestUMass”

 

  • “I’m here because we can do better than fossil fuels.”

 

  • “I’m here because this needs to stop!”

 

  • “I am invigorated by the sense of solidarity, passion, and self-discipline that I am experience during this sit-in right now.  I cannot express my gratitude to be a part of such an important and trail-blazing movement.”

 

  • “I’m here for all the people who don’t believe the severity of the situation, for everyone who denies the climate change is real, for the citizens of this country who deny fossil fuels are the perpetrators of climate change.”

 

  • “I’m here because I want the university system to help create a future in which we reward the best scientists, engineers, policymakers and other highly trained professionals for helping solve the future’s energy problem as much as we reward them for perpetuating the energy problems.  Divest from gas and oil and invest in solar and wind NOW! It is our future on the line that we will have to deal with.  Take the long view, for us, our children and our children’s children and help lead the way toward creating a sustainable renewable energy economy.”

 

  • “I am here because I care about the longevity of the human race. As Mexican poet Octavio Paz says “Y en un abrir los ojos, nos morimos.”  I think our species has only begun to fully develop, and now our species is at risk of our own actions causing our extinction.”

 

  • “I’m here because I care about future generations as well as Mother Earth.  If we don’t change now we never will.”

 

  • “I am sitting in for the second day in a row because I know UMass admin sees us and hears us and I want change to happen today. Not tomorrow. Not in a couple weeks or months but now.  Power is being shifted right at this moment and what’s being done here is historical.”

 

  • “Fossil fuels are not a very prudent investment.  As a responsible fiduciary it is illogical to allocate long-term investments to highly volatile investments that have no long-term sustainability.”

 

  • “For the Board of Trustees, there’s no rush.Whether they divest or not, it doesn’t matter to them.  Whether they divest today or tomorrow, it doesn’t matter to them.  For the climate that is changing, the ecosystems that are collapsing and the people who are suffering, it does matter. I am sitting in because we can’t wait until tomorrow; we need radical change right now and sitting in is how we’re going to get it.”

 

  • “I am an exchange student at Hampshire College and I am sitting in with UACT’s GCO class. I am sitting in because UMass needs to and can set the trend of public institutions divesting from fossil fuels!”

 

  • “I’m here because I believe in student power and that we all have a responsibility to stand up for what we believe in and show that change is possible–that we do not have to have a future where our university invests money (&therefore power) in corrupt institutions.”

 

  • “Shame on U(mass) for investing in the climate crisis against the wishes of students, faculty and climate scientists who work at this university.  This is not a debate–this is demand, and we deserve a future where we can send our own children to UMass–something that will not happen if the climate crisis is not addressed.”

 

  • “I am here to prove that the administration does not hold all the power.  TO demonstrate that a group of likeminded, passionate people who care about a better future can make an impact when they stand (or sit_) together.”

 

  • “I am here because I believe corporate interests should now dictate where my money goes to. Students, faculty and other members of the community want divestment. You serve us not the other way around. The fossil fuels industry has created 5.1 million deaths. YOu want that blood on your hands? Well too bad it is. Divestment is the only way to START righting this wrong.”

 

  • “I am here for my future, the future of mankind, and of planet earth. No amount of money is worth the disenfranchisement of people whose voices have been silenced and have no power to defend themselves. Nothing is worth the destruction of our planet and the death that comes with it.  I am here to represent those that do not have the privilege to protest the acts of their administrators and government.”

 

  • “The UMass administration needs to take responsibility for its actions.  For a school that prides itself on sustainability they are being incredibly hypocritical by  retaining their investment in fossil fuels. There will continue to be unrest, continue to be civil disobedience until the student’s demands are met.  THe administration should reflect the will of the students, and I am ashamed to be a part of this university if this continues.”

 

  • “I will not stand by as the Earth is destroyed by complacency.”

 

  • “I’m here because I feel a responsibility as an inhabitant of this Earth to take care of it.  I recognize the extreme injustice taking place at the hands of the fossil fuel industry, and I recognize our University’s willing complacency with this injustice as it’s own injustice. Further more I recognize that this sit-in which we are all currently participating in, is an unavoidable opportunity to place pressure on the UMass Foundation to make investments that are fiscally, socially & politically responsible and that represent the students, faculty & alumni that comprise the UMass community, not just the interests of wealthy donors like Jack Welch.  To those in power at the top who continue to prolong the inevitable step of full fossil fuel divestment, I sincerely urge you to prepare yourselves for the shit-storm of political pressure that is coming you’re way :)”

 

  • “Yoo…Ezra here. I’m sitting in for my future and the future of this planet. If you’re ever in doubt, or depressed or feel powerless remember there is something you can do; plant a garden! More specifically it is to do something positive with and for the earth.  It is never too little or too late to start making change around you.”

 

  • “I’m sitting here because I am privileged enough to not feel the direct impact of climate change everyday but others are.  Because I think its about time our universities invest in our futures instead of 5.1 million climate related deaths per year.  Because I refuse to be bought and won’t stand for my university making that decision for me.”

 

  • “I am honored that I am able to sit here with so many great people looking to achieve great things.  That being said, I am disgusted and saddened that the UMass administration is so closed minded and disconcerted about their students future.  The issue being looked at now should be seen objectively, without any contemplation because of monetary gain.  If UMass wants to be supported the admin must look toward the future rather than in their pockets.  We all have the same pain and suffering to look to in the future rather and having UMass divest will make the future look a little brighter in the dimness which surrounds us now.”

 

  • “I’m sitting because this is the only way a group of liberal arts majors with manbuns and cartilage piercings can do something that matters.  We stand for something together, and nothing alone.”

 

  • “I’m sitting because my friend pressured me very much into coming. But, I am happy that I came. This is my first sit in and I can feel the strength sitting here with my peers.”

 

  • “I’m sitting here because there’s nothing better than seeing people give a shit about important stuff. Direct action politics is all we have.”

 

  • “I’m here because maintaining the lifestyle we have now ignores the struggles we’ve imposed on other communities. It’s unfair.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because my Jewish values cannot let me sit by while we destroy our planet. This movement will change the world.”

 

  • “I’m sitting here because I believe in strength in numbers.  Together we can make a difference and make a change that will benefit the common good.”

 

  • “Because climate change disproportionately affects communities of color around the world, which is atrocious and if UMass is invested in that they’re atrocious too.”

 

  • “I’m here because climate change can cause massive damages to communities across the world and everyone can play a part in resisting this human-made self destruction fueled by greed, power, and injustice.”

 

  • “I’m here because People of Color are directly affected by the dangers of fossil fuels. Urban communities always tend to be by plants that pollute the air. Those urban spaces are mostly occupied by POCs.  This isn’t just about money or the climate.  It’s about humanity & saving it.”

 

  • “I am here because I fully support the divestment from fossil fuels.  Climate change is serious, and happening now and we as a university need to do something about it.  Also if UMass is going to continue to be a leader for sustainable campuses nationwide, this is a huge step that we need to take.”

 

  • “I am here in solidarity with those who worked so hard on the divestment campaign.  Climate change has the potential to ruin the lives of generations and it is time to take the precautions to stop it.”

 

  • “I am here because I support and stand in solidarity with everyone involved in the Divestment campaign.  We have an obligation to divest from fossil fuels because it ties into climate change and we need to work towards achieving environmental justice that also affects many lives.  This is a step towards equality and justice.”

 

  • “I am here to support the growing dozens of students at the sit in.  By coordinating across college campuses across the US (Yale, Harvard) today is a big day.

 

  • “I am here to stand with Divest UMass in pressuring the University to divest from fossil fuels.  As an institution of higher education that is aware of climate change, unethical business practices by fossil fuel companies, and other problems created by propping up fossil fuel interests, we should be leading the charge to fix the issues.”

 

  • “I’m here because divestment from fossil fuels is not only the right thing to do for our environment but also for the people who live in it–especially people on the front lines who are disproportionately low income & POC.  I”m here for myself, I”m here for student power, and I’m here because I choose the side of justice.”

 

  • “I’m here as a Smith student because it doesn’t matter that this is not my campus–we must all stand on the side of justice. I am here in solidarity with UMass students, with Divest organizers, with all people affected by climate change and all the forms of oppression linked to it.”

 

  • “I’m here to support student power to hold our institutions accountable to future generations and to the values of racial, economic, & environmental justice that I hope the university can learn to represent.  I”m here to lead with them.”

 

  • “I am here because I”m sick of UMass continually ignoring the voices of its students and acting as a business first and foremost, as opposed to a publicly funded institute of higher education.”

 

  • “I think climate justice is a critical issue.  We need more and more participation from our institutions in combating climate change.  This is going to set the tone for our future generations.”

 

  • “I am here because while I have not dedicated my life to the cause, it is important to help in all the ways I can.  My few hours of presence today were a small contribution in the fight against climate change and climate injustice, a cause I truly believe in.   Saving our planet is very important.”

 

  • “Our university ought to be able to hear the requests of its own students and consider their demands. It also ought to make investments that are sustainable and ethical.  I am here to  remind the administration of its duty to provide those in its actions.”

 

  • “I am here because of solidarity.”

 

  • I am here because Divest’s political education is on point! I’m here because of how we are all implicated in climate change–as either current or potential victims or as bystanders of institutions that invest in fossil fuels! I’m here because of community!”

 

  • I am here because I want to support students at UMass who have spent so much time organizing around divestment.  I think it is an important issue and I”m happy to lend my body to the cause.”

 

  • ” I am here because Divest brings to light many pressing intersectional issues and the sit-in is telling of how valuable collective action is.”

 

  • “I’m here because we’re running out of time to stop using fossil fuels before climate change becomes catastrophic + irreversible, and this is the least I can do.”

 

 

 

4/11/2016

April 11th marked the first day of a sit-in at the Whitmore administration office. Students sat outside the chancellors office to show with their bodies that the UMass community is not in support of the system’s endowment being invested in the fossil fuel industry, an industry that is a leading cause of climate change and one that perpetuates injustices around the world.

We passed around a journal and asked the question “why are you sitting in?”

  • “I am sitting in for all the silenced victims of this climate crisis. I am sitting in to prove humanities worth, that we are worth more than profit and private interests. I am sitting in because Chairman Woolridge and President Meehan must urgently take action to address the disastrous monstrosity  in which they are selfishly invested.”      – Samantha Rose Gerdes, UMass Amherst

 

  • “I am sitting in to express my commitment to taking serious steps to combat climate change. As a UMass student I feel that I should have a voice in what my university does in my name. Climate change is an existential threat to life on Earth and we must do everything in our power to stop the damage being done by the fossil fuel industry.” -David Christopher Ruymen, UMass Amherst

 

  • “I am sitting in because I want to hold UMass accountable to its values of justice and anti-oppression. For three years we have been demanding divestment and for three years there has been a lack of urgency.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because I believe in a world free of exploitation, because people are dying and the administration only cares about profit.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because I believe that all people deserve to live in a healthy environment free from exploitation. UMass and all institutions need to be held accountable for profiteering from other people’s, especially people of colors, pain, and experience(s) of violence.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because I can’t just sit back and watch while this institution, of which I am a part, profits from and contributes to suffering and death. I have the power, the same power we all have, to contribute to change, even if it’s small. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing that I could’ve make a change but instead, I sat back, watched, and was complicit in the suffering.”

 

  • “I’m sitting in because if I wasn’t then I would be a hypocrite. We need to support the things we believe in and that starts with taking action. It’s now or never, we need to start the transition from a country run by wealthy white men to a country that is run by the people’s wants and environmental conservation.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because without all of us, we just simply won’t be heard. We need to take action and show UMass that they are accountable and need to make a change. Students can and do have a voice in how things are being run and its time our school reflects our beliefs and values.” -Jordan Pellecchia, UMass Amherst

 

  • “I’m sitting in for all the humans, animals, and plant species suffering from the effects of climate change. UMass is a school leading in eco-friendly methods but we are still investing money into fossil fuels. I do not want to attend a university that promotes change for the environment but cannot follow through.” -Austin Peek

 

  • “I am sitting in because as a member of the UMass community, the administration has an obligation to represent my views and interests, but as it stands now they are only upholding destructive interests. The environment is an issue that we have the opportunity and responsibility to take action on, and we cannot be complicit in the destruction of the only home we have. Chairman Woolridge and President Meehan do not have the support of the students of this institution to continue investing in fossil fuels, and the administration must answer to this.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because I believe in being for the people, not for profit. The choice to divest will help the individual as much as the whole community, it is a choice for betterment. Together, at this sit-in, progress has already been made. Strides are being taken to save the environment locally and globally. I sit in because I care about our FUTURE, because I want there to be one.” -Ellyse Maynard, UMass Amherst

 

  • “I am sitting in because our future is on the line. It’s time to act on behalf of every living thing on this planet. We have the power to make positive change and we will win. “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

 

  • “Hey Divest UMass folks (and supporters)!! I’m an organizer with Divest Smith College and am super jazzed to be sitting in with you inspiring humans. There are so many reasons why I’m sitting in and I’ll try to express some of it here. One key reason is that I get to use my comparative privilege as a white, upper-middle class cis woman to amplify the calls for climate justice that disproportionately impact many of my fellow humans. I’m sitting in because it’s extremely hypocritical that UMass, Smith College and any other academic institution claims that they value social justice while their endowment is invested in the inhuman, violent and oppressive fossil fuel industry. Also, I’m sitting in because I care about the welfare of ALL human beings (and living creatures), not just those in my relatively privileged community. The power of our divestment campaigns is that it stigmatizes the fossil fuel industry (and multi-national corporations and the dire state of capitalism today!) By doing this work, we are bringing attention to the people (CEO’s and government officials and others) who uphold this social and environmental injustice, either actively or as bystanders. It’s during moments like this that we get to feel the people power and actively change the cause of history.”- Eliana Gevelber, Divest Smith College organizer

 

  • “I’m sitting in because this can’t wait, the time is right now. Climate change means our future is uncertain so we have to make any changes we can to create a better one. Right now. The Earth can’t wait, why are UMass administration?”- Shrishti Pant, UMass Amherst

 

  • “I am sitting in because I am tired of UMass Amherst admin constantly choosing profit over people and the environment. Climate change is real. It’s happening now and it’s time to act. We need change to hold the people accountable that allow destructive systems to take priority over people’s lives and their well-being. I believe in student power, I can feel it among us all here. I know we can win, so I sit-in.” 🙂                   -Carly Burgess, SLAP member, UMass Amherst

 

  • “I am sitting for a responsible and just future. I’m also sitting in solidarity and support of my fellow students and friends who have worked so tirelessly. Their commitment, energy and vision are powerful enough to gather such a community and bring about the full divestment form fossil fuels. We must all be aware of the power of our informed collective voice. We must lead the way for justice, a clean conscious future and build external web of individuals providing strength and action.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because it is our responsibility to take care of the world we live in. For a sustainable world and economic system we have to uphold both the state and the big business to the same standard. People over profit.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because I am tired of UMass getting and having everything they want. If we don’t do this then who will; and if we don’t do it now then when. It’s been three years and it is time for change; divestment to happen.”

 

  • “I am sitting in because I have the power. There are 30,000 students and 22 members on the board of trustees. We should have a say in where our schools money is going, not them, and it is absurd that we don’t already. I am also sitting in because I have the privilege to do something about climate change while those that suffer most don’t.”  -Abby Nash, UMass Amherst

 

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3/29/2016

We return from spring break with the intent of serious escalation. The time is now: one only has to pick up a newspaper to realize that the impacts of climate change are happening as you are reading this.

We are putting our outreach plan into action… we had a killer open mic at Greeno and are painting the campus orange. We are getting the word out everywhere that we are here and that divestment cannot wait.

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Besides strategizing, our first meeting back brought to light questions of how much we are willing to sacrifice for the campaign and discussions of feeling powerless. One thing we concluded was that this space, bringing us together, is exactly what alleviates the feeling of powerlessness. “If only people knew this!”, we thought. For, in the words of Naomi Klein, “to change everything, we need everyone.”

As students, all of us have a lot on our plates. But what I’ve been realizing more and more lately is that serious sacrifices have to be made if we are to deal with this problem, and no one is going to make them for us- it’s on us, our generation. It’s our choice. And we have the power.

On April 3rd we are holding a training session for anyone interested in getting more involved (from 2-5PM in Gordon Hall at UMass Amherst).  Help us build this power!

In the meantime, check out the video we made below, and stay tuned for part 2:

3/17/2016

Recently Divest embarked on a weekend-long retreat to strategize, giving us a chance to meet with folks from the other UMass campuses and begin coordinating our actions and visions for the movement, all culminating in an experience that I think most would agree was insightful and empowering.  It was an intense two days, and a lot was discussed, analyzed and accomplished… to sum up the outcome of the retreat in one word: escalation.

But more came out of this experience than just a tentative timeline of events- some real bonding went down around those wood stoves and I think we emerged as an even stronger group than the one we came in as. One of the most satisfying things in life, I’ve found, is finding “your people,”- those with whom we share unspoken mutual understandings with- those who “get it.” At the retreat I found consistently that people were on the same page: they understood, for example, that eating meat is incredibly unsustainable: the reasons didn’t have to be explained. No one questioned whether growing food was a “real job,” scoffed at vegan diets or thought stuffed squash blossoms were particularly weird (maybe a stretch).

Perhaps more satisfying than these understandings were connections made through conversation. We spent the better part of Saturday getting to know one another, oftentimes through intimate one-on-one discussions. I came to find that the people around me saw the world as I do – that other people can attest to feeling the same disconnect from their families, the same connection to the Earth… that they have also also gone through periods of their life feeling like they’re not quite where they’re supposed to be.

Through these connections I realized how intertwined empowerment and community are. What I took away from this weekend is that these connections are exactly what empower us- this is why we spend so much time building relationships. Obviously strength lies in numbers, I already knew this- in order to achieve anything we need to radicalize the entire student body, and more people means more brainpower. What is not so obvious is how something like empowerment can be spread through energies… or maybe this is obvious but just not as clear until you really experience it. I left feeling empowered because those around me – people with whom I built real connections with – did, and to me the future seems if not more hopeful, than at least less bleak.

We left on Sunday not just having built relationships within the UMass Amherst Divestment club, but having built a powerful coalition that spans cross-campus and cross-state.

For the remainder of the semester our focus is on outreach of every kind- tabling, class raps, postering, art, social media, blogging… escalation. But it’s more than just getting people amped and fired up- we need to make real connections with people in order to build power and keep people engaged and coming back- only through this method can we make real change.

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Connecting with nature

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Shenanigans

 

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