Thank You, Harvard

This is the speech that I gave at the closing rally of Harvard Heat Week. I improvised a bit, so this may not match up exactly with what I said. 

I’ve been working on this campaign for three years, since the very beginning. Harvard has been a hard place to be. It’s been  hard to be a student in this culture, to face this administration. At times, it’s drained my soul. Divest Harvard has made my time here worth it.

Still cynicism has dominated by thinking at times. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called “Harvard is the Climate Crisis.” I laid out three principles that explain how Harvard reflects the same behaviors that perpetuate climate change. Here they are: 

1) Refuse to question your fierce commitment to the status quo

2) Reject systemic thinking in order to trivialize the challenge of change.

3) Suppress dialogue to maintain control.


I think that I have to change my tone. Because when I came here, I wasn’t a participant in civil disobedience. I didn’t understand climate justice. I didn’t have a community. I didn’t realize the almighty, surreptitious, and coercive power of the fossil fuel industry.

But now I do.

So thank you, Harvard, for your commitment to the status quo because that it what enabled me to understand the power of the fossil fuel industry.

Thank you, Harvard, for your refusal to engage with students because that it was taught me the power of a community, social solidarity, and the potential of a social movement. 

Thank you, Harvard, for being unjust because that is what taught me how to fight for justice.

And most importantly, thank you, Harvard, for helping me realize what I am willing to do to protect what I love.

Next time I thank Harvard, it will be because they divested from fossil fuels. It will because our university chose to stand on the right of history with its student, faculty, and alumni.  It will show that Harvard can grow just as I have grown and Divest Harvard has grown. 

This is our moment in history. This is the moment when we fight for everything that we love. We made it. We are seizing it. Join us, Harvard.

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  1. A couple of strategies I was pondering to pressure Faust would be to force her hand on two important points, if she will not hide from the questions. 1) Harvard almost completely divested in the 80’s from South Africa products, so does Faust agree or disagree with Harvard’s divestment to end apartheid? If no, then why not? Did she support apartheid? Does she think Nelson Mandela was wrong that divestment helped to end it? and 2) Does she accept the scientifically conservative IPCC 2 degree red line? and does she realize it will be crossed in just 17 years? Is she willing to delay divestment with the risk that just over a mere decade and a half, the earth, and therefore the future of all Harvard students will have passed the point of no return? Is that an acceptable risk for a university president to gamble on? Just like all useless immoral politicians she has mastered the art of not answering yes/no questions, but if you press her, I think there is enough critical mass reached that she might have to go on the record or really look inept and lose all credibility.

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