Fossil Free GW protests outside Board of Trustees meeting

Media Credit: Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

Members of Fossil Free GW read their demand for the University to divest from the fossil fuel industry by Feb. 28.

About 20 students from Fossil Free GW chanted in favor of fossil fuel divestment outside a Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning.

The student organization was calling for GW to divest from the fossil fuel industry by Feb. 28. Students gathered in Kogan Plaza then read their ultimatum in the Marvin Center during a closed session of the board meeting.

The protest came after Board of Trustees Chairman Nelson Carbonell earlier this week declined to give the Student Association Senate an answer on whether the University will continue investing in the fossil fuel industry.

During the 2015 SA elections, 72 percent of students said they supported divestment. The SA passed a resolution in September that supported removing fossil fuels from GW’s investment portfolio.

As the group marched toward the Marvin Center Friday morning, University Police Department officers at first restricted them from entering the building. Officers later agreed to let the group in, as long as they left their signs outside.

The University can “define the time, place and manner” of on-campus protests, according to GW’s protesting policy published in 2011.

Frank Fritz, a member of Fossil Free GW, said the policy “must be fought” because it limits students’ freedom of speech.

“Even in a peaceful demonstration, when we were asserting the position of students, they forbid us from bringing signs into the Marvin Center,” Fritz said.

By the time the Fossil Free GW group made it to the Board of Trustees meeting without their signs, the board had moved into a closed session.

Eden Vitoff, a protest organizer, said the group did not plan to chant outside the meeting but did because they could not enter.

“We all love GW and have a lot of school pride,” Vitoff said. “There’s no question we are privileged to attend this University, but that doesn’t mean we should just accept everything from it. We are speaking out against the University today to make it the best it can be.”

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