Video: American University students read letters they sent to members of the Board of Trustees' with their personal reasons for supporting fossil fuel divestment.
On November 21, 2014, the Board of Trustees of American University voted in favor of supporting climate destruction, refusing to divest its $550 million endowment from the fossil fuel industry and placing American University firmly on the wrong side of history.
The student group Fossil Free American University has been leading the divestment movement on campus for two years, and 80% of the student body, faculty, alumni, and several donors support their campaign. By refusing to divest, the Board of Trustees ignored the voices of its community, which are simultaneously used to market American University to incoming students.
Cambridge Associates, the firm that manages American University's endowment, recently announced it will offer fossil free portfolios for schools looking to divest, and manage fossil free endowments. Despite this announcement, the American University Board of Trustees tried to blame Cambridge for its decision to divest saying that the company could not "ensure" the university would lose money. However, since the money in the endowment is in the market, nothing can actually be guaranteed.
After the vote's announcement at a forum open to the public, those supporting divestment expressed their disgust with the Board's decision. Many people, including myself, shared their own intimate, and often tragic, reasons this decision made them ashamed of the University's choice. I spoke of the recent flash floods in my birthplace of Argentina, which left 50 dead. Emily Dalgo, a sophomore of Mississippi, related her memories of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that destroyed the Gulf Coast in 2010, saying "to know that American University is funding the kinds of industries that cause these disasters makes me sick." Katie Kirchner, a senior and middle school teacher in Southeast Washington, D.C., said "You absolutely have to justify your decision today to me and to everyone else in this room, but more importantly to my students, and to members of the D.C. community who are on the frontlines of climate change."
As I told President Kerwin, Chairman Sine, and the members of the Board in attendance at the forum, this is no longer a problem of the future. This is a problem right now in communities all over the world. The choice to continue investing in fossil fuel companies is a conscious choice to be accomplices in global climate murder.
That might sound dramatic, but communities are being destroyed and people are dying due to effects of climate change right now, while rich men in boardrooms are deciding to look the other way. Students had to stand in exits of the forum to stop Board members from walking out while students were speaking about their homes being destroyed. They were not interested in hearing the consequences of their decision.
Fossil Free American University, and student groups at universities around the country, will not cease to seek climate justice. When institutions silence voices, those silenced turn to methods outside the institution to achieve their goals; we gave the Board of Trustees a chance to do the right thing through their institutional channels, and now they will see the consequences of ignoring us.
As Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, tweeted after the vote, "Now the fight really starts for...
On Monday, Nov. 17 at 1 pm, hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, and community members will gather at American University for the largest action ever organized by Fossil Free American University, a student group that has been organizing for divestment for two years....
With the currently stalled negotiations regarding comprehensive immigration reform in the House, most immigrant rights activists are calling for President Obama to halt all deportations of non-criminals. The number of people deported under the Obama administration has recently climbed to 2 million, that's more than any administration in American history. That's 1,100 deported persons per day, about the same amount of people deported between 1892 and 1997, with an estimated cost of about $5 billion per year, or $12,500 for every deported person. This includes the deportation of 205,000 parents of American citizens in the last 2 years.
The question is, does the President have the executive power to halt deportations?
A very brave activist, Ju Hong, interrupted a speech the President was giving on immigration last November, directly asking him,
Mr. Obama, I need your help. There are thousands of families being separated. Please use your executive order to halt the deportation to all 11.5 million immigrants. You have the power to stop the deportations for all undocumented immigrants.
President Obama responded, "Actually, I don't."
But in fact, to some extent, he already has. He passed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA in 2012, which I applied for and have received. Among other things, DACA temporarily halts deportations for what are considered "DREAMers," which are undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age.
President Obama did this through what is called prosecutorial discretion, which is the authority to decide charges and how to pursue a case. President Obama has the authority to enforce the law as is his executive power, which puts him in the possession of prosecutorial discretion. He can simply decide not to pursue action against the civil offense of unauthorized stay in the United States.
And as a former constitutional lawyer, I'm sure he is well aware that the Constitution gives the President the power to "grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States."
One way in which President Obama could stop deportations is by expanding the DACA program above the current age limit, so that not only will the DREAMers not be deported, but those DREAMers won't have to become orphans because ICE shows up at their house in the middle of the night and takes their parents away. This is a reality, it happens every day in every community around the United States. It happened on my street just a few years ago to a family who lived across the street from me one day and were literally in Nicaragua the next, leaving behind a daughter who happened not to be home at the time when ICE showed up.
So why is this happening? I mean, President Obama must have a good reason, right? What's the point of all these families being broken up? Of all these potential future Americans being shipped back to their former countries?
Politics. President Obama believes he is showing the Republicans that he is hard on enforcement by expanding the power of programs like ICE or controversial, and frankly unconstitutional procedures like "secure communities," which is essentially a "stop, frisk, and deport" program. He thinks this will warm the GOP up to passing a bipartisan comprehensive reform bill, but this isn't bringing the Republicans to the table.
In fact, Speaker Boehner, the Republican leader, recently said, "There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws."
So, President Obama, I ask, if deporting 2 million people and inhumanely detaining thousands more is not enough enforcement for the Republican leadership, what was the point? More importantly, why isn't it being stopped?
In your State of the Union Address this year you said, "wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
Maybe you're still not considering undocumented or mixed-status families as American.
Can we truly have a civil conversation on comprehensive immigration reform while simultaneously deporting millions of people that would be affected by such a...
Is there such a thing as DREAMer's guilt? I often feel somewhat guilty that so much attention is placed on DREAMers like myself versus all the other undocumented immigrants just as deserving of immigration reform.
When the media or politicians speak of DREAMers and their "innocence" in coming to...