By Elise Harmon, managing editor
Members of DivestNU, now in their second week of occupying Centennial Common, held a rally with alumni Tuesday and have agreed to move their tents out of the way for a Student Government Association (SGA) event scheduled for Friday.
The student group, which formed in 2013, first pitched tents, posted signs and raised banners on Centennial Common on Monday, Oct. 3, threatening to stay until Northeastern University administrators agreed to divest its endowments from fossil fuel industries. Although the university does not directly invest in fossil fuels, some of the school’s $729 million endowment is invested in commingled funds that include energy sector assets.
DivestNU wants the university to agree to never again directly invest in fossil fuels and to propose complete divestment to the Board of Trustees.
So far, there has been no official meeting between DivestNU members and officials from Northeastern.
On the ninth day of the occupation, a group of about 50 students and alumni gathered in the dim light of the makeshift Centennial encampment at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
“[The alumni] are folks who were involved in the 2014 referendum, who just reached out to us after hearing about our campaign,” said Austin Williams, a senior environmental studies and political science major and co-founder of DivestNU.
In March 2014, 75 percent of students who participated in the SGA elections voted in favor of divestment.
Speakers at the rally included students, alumni and the father of a Northeastern student.
“This isn’t a joke. The stakes are really really high,” Daniela Gonzalez, a Northeastern alumna who graduated in 2015, said. “I want to remind you all not to let the administration tell you that they’re going to create a committee to stall this. […] They’ll ignore you, and then they’ll ignore you again.”
On Friday, Oct. 14, SGA plans to hold Husky Takeover on Centennial. The event will feature a bounce house, popcorn, grilled food and the chance to win free prizes. As it did during West Wing Night, an event held by Northeastern Votes last Wednesday, DivestNU has agreed to move its tents out of the way of the activities.
“[DivestNU] agreed to move their tents out of the way of the safety zone because of the bouncy house,” Akeira Gilbert, SGA’s executive director of communications and a junior human services major, said. “They graciously agreed to move their tents from that morning until 4 p.m.”
Photo by Scotty Schenck