The power of activism was more apparent than ever this week.
The Board of Trustees announced earlier this week that GW will divest from fossil fuels by 2025, responding decisively to the demands of student activists. But D.C. residents’ pursuit of representation was met with pushback and hostility by politicians.
Here’s the best and worst of this week’s headlines.
The announcement from the Board that GW would fully divest from fossil fuels has been a long time coming. The Environmental, Social and Governance Responsibility Task Force – whose recommendation the Board agreed to by deciding to divest – was the product of tireless lobbying and activism by Sunrise GW and other student activists.
GW’s move is an example of the power of student activism and organizing. Students had spent years demanding that the University end its “complicity in the climate crisis” by axing fossil fuel money from its endowment. And for a long time, the University resisted. But petitions, protests and people speaking up eventually forced the administration to act. Students and campus groups should look to divestment as an example for how real change is possible through activism and organizing.
This week brought D.C. one step closer to becoming a state – but also highlighted the obstacles that statehood will face and the deeply problematic rationales shown by some of its opponents.
While the House of Representatives passed a historic bill that would make the District the 51st state, the legislation is doomed in the Senate. Some senators’ brazen opposition to the bill manifested itself as thinly-veiled racism. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., claimed that D.C. does not deserve statehood because it does not have a “well-rounded working class,” while Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., assured a press pool that “real people” outside the Beltway oppose D.C. statehood. Given that D.C. is 47 percent Black and the constituencies these senators referred to are overwhelmingly White, these remarks came across as glaringly racist.
D.C. statehood was never going to be an easy process, and there was never a real chance that the Senate would pass last week’s legislation. But the racism peddled by many opponents highlights how difficult the fight will continue to be.
Andrew Sugrue, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the contributing opinions editor.