April 22, 2016
Contact: Daniela Lapidous, 408-505-8010, email@example.com
New York, NY -- On Thursday night, over 100 students participated in a "sleep out" in solidarity with the students sitting-in inside Low Library since Thursday, April 14, to demand fossil fuel divestment.
Events included a speak-out about climate justice and a "solidarity circle" with a moment of silence for the people killed by the fossil fuel industry and its extraction since the beginning of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice's (CDCJ) campaign in the fall of 2012. The group also talked about solidarity, read statements from the six students still inside, and sang rounds of songs.
“The moment after we walked into Low on Thursday afternoon, we won,” said Elana Sulakshana, Columbia College senior and CDCJ organizer, as reported by Columbia Spectator. “We won because all of you are here.”
Participants set up tents and mattresses on Low Plaza to reflect the ongoing sit-in and the power of holding space, as students on a campus not responsive to student needs or desires.
Additionally, an alumni letter of support calling for President Bollinger to meet with the students immediately and forgo harsh punishments for the protestors amassed more than 425 signatures in less than 48 hours.
"In the classrooms, libraries, and residence halls of Morningside Heights, we learned that we must use all the resources at our disposal when we face global challenges. We are looking to the University today to do its part to address one of these challenges by taking a moral and financially sound stance against fossil fuel investment. Until this happens, we as alumni cannot in good faith donate to the University, nor will we stand idly by while the Columbia Administration marginalizes seven inspiring students making their case for divestment," says the letter written and circulated by alumni Zak Accuardi (SEAS 2011) and Narayan Subramanian (SEAS 2013).
The faculty letter of support, calling for President Bollinger to meet with students and refrain from harsh punishment for the occupying students, now has over 160 signatures.