Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
At around 8:00 pm last Friday, four members of Mountain Justice received emails from the Dean’s Office threatening fines and academic probation for their participation in the February 24th sit-in at the Finance and Investments Office in Parrish Hall. It is not yet clear why these four particular students were selected.
The sit-in called on the Board to engage in dialogue on the student divestment referendum, which students passed by a landslide, and was a partial success, with the Board placing divestment on the agenda for the first time in over a year.
We find it shocking and disturbing that the administration would rather threaten students with fines and academic probation than meet and discuss the issue. The Board’s continuing refusal to engage on this issue only further shows that they know their blanket rejection of any divestment is indefensible. To refuse to engage simply because divestment would use the endowment for a social purpose goes against everything Swarthmore stands for.
These students took action as part a long tradition on this campus of peaceful acts of conscience. They were calling on the Board of Managers to act in line with our institution’s values of social responsibility and leadership for the common good. The fossil fuel industry threatens millions of lives and our collective future — with the Trump administration actively supporting this industry, it is unconscionable that Swarthmore continues to support and invest in fossil fuels.
The students and faculty at the sit-in made every effort to be courteous and thoughtful to Mr. Amstutz and Public Safety, even assisting Mr. Amstutz with his office tasks. We urge President Smith and Dean Miller to affirm our community’s right to peaceful protest, and ask you to add your name to this petition to do the same: https://goo.gl/forms/elZ9rdXz6HDWUGtJ3
This article was originally posted on Mountain Justice’s Facebook page. The Daily Gazette has published it here at their request.
As Henry David Thoreau pointed out: civil disobedience obtains moral authority by the willingness of the protestor to suffer the penalties for their actions. If student protestors wish to take their actions beyond the point of peaceful protest, and interfere with the rights of others, they need to be prepared to take the punishment. With chin held high. And without whining.