University of Massachusetts students—who just over one month ago were arrested for demanding that their school divest from fossil fuels—were validated on Wednesday after it was announced that the school would become the first major public university to pull its direct holdings from polluting industries.
The decision was made by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors of the UMass Foundation, which oversees the endowment, valued at $700 million at the end of the last fiscal year.
“I think it’s the best news I’ve heard in an age!” Bill McKibben, who co-founded 350.org and helped launch the campaign divestment movement, declared in an email to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “It’s the result of great organizing by students and faculty across the Bay State—and coming as it does in the hottest year ever recorded it’s a great morale boost to the climate movement.”
He added that it’s a “key reminder to financial institutions about the direction the world is headed.”
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Thirty-four UMass Amherst students were arrested last month after holding a multi-day sit-in during a national wave of campus protests against fossil fuel investment.
Mica Reel, spokeswoman for campaign organizer Divest UMass, told the Gazette that the group was “so excited” about the school’s swift turnaround.
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