Another year of white supremacy, xenophobia, and bigotry on Stanford’s campus. Another year of student outrage and disapproval. Another year of Stanford’s administration refusing to listen to its marginalized students as we beg the institution to stop providing a platform for fascist talking heads to stand upon.
On Monday, January 19th, 2015, sixty-eight protesters were arrested on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge after an MLK-day action of nonviolent civil disobedience. Fifty-seven of us were cited and released after being brought to the California Highway Patrol’s police department, while eleven were held overnight in jail. I remember, wrists zip-tied together, seeing a road sign leaning against the side of the room where many of us were temporarily held. “Rough road ahead,” it read.
After a five day sit-in starting on Monday, student protesters concluded their occupation of the Main Quad Friday morning by holding a rally for full divestment from fossil fuels. Later in the day, students met with President Hennessy to discuss their cause.
The night before the rally organized by Fossil Free Stanford (FFS), the participants had received another warning from the University, this time with a more clear timeline for punishment as well as an extended threat to suspend investment requests currently in the process of being reviewed.
At the site of the Fossil Free Stanford (FFS) sit-in outside the president and provost’s office, wakeup times are staggered as the sun rises. Some participants, in tents, sleep longer. Others, in sleeping bags under the Main Quad arcades, begin to wake earlier. Most begin to pull out laptops, starting their work for the day.
When most of the sit-in protesters are awake, Yari Greaney ’15 M.S.’16 gathers the group for their morning meeting. In a typical day, the participants meet all together twice — once in the morning and once in the evening. Sitting in a circle on the quad, they share announcements, discuss their emotions as the sit-in continues and conclude each meeting in song.
Six faculty members released a letter on Wednesday urging more immediate and comprehensive divestment from fossil fuels by the University, citing the petition signed by 376 faculty members last March. This most recent letter was written in response to an earlier letter written by the Board of Trustees and President John Hennessy in anticipation of the Paris climate negotiations to take place in December.
As the weeks bore on, the messages accumulated. Some solicited sign-ups, others informed me of mandatory meetings, and the latest one instructed me to pick a time slot to get legal training so that I may be ready to become one with the civilly disobedient. Yet as each one arrived, I kept putting off action. The pledge sat in the back of my mind, flaring up and dying off again like an incessant ocean swell. Would divestment even have any impact on the climate change conundrum?
Defending Kim Davis is a questionable act. Ever since she made national headlines in September for refusing to issue marriage licenses – to any couple – because she believed the sanctity of marriage had been ruined by the ruling in favor of gay marriage, this county clerk from Kentucky has been made a caricature: a hero for few and the paradigm of prejudice for many liberals.
As of noon on Wednesday, 51 Stanford students signed a pledge written by Fossil Free Stanford pledging to participate in civil disobedience due to the University’s continued investment in oil and gas industries.