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.
Mountain Justice (MJ) held a demonstration illustrating the potential impact of divestment on Friday, toppling a line of cardboard dominoes down the main stairwell in Parrish Hall. Each domino stood for a stage in MJ’s divestment campaign and, as the dominoes fell, audience members raised posters naming each of these stages.
The event was held in solidarity with 5 members of Mountain Justice who were meeting with the Board of Managers at a luncheon held at the same time as Friday’s demonstration.
Sachie Hopkins-Hayakawa ‘13, a member of MJ, said, “We're gaining so much momentum nationally that we wanted to have an action to celebrate that and the people who are working really hard because a lot of the work is writing emails, writing op-eds, meeting behind closed doors, and that doesn't get celebrated very often, so we wanted to do a community celebration for the work we've been putting in.” She also said that she hoped the demonstration would show that MJ has student support outside of the group’s membership.
Hannah Jones ‘12, who was a member of MJ while at Swat, called the demonstration “a concrete way” to show the divestment movement as it gains power. According to Jones, the “power of divestment is that it taints them [companies] in a political sphere.” In addition, Jones said that many investors look to college endowments when deciding where to invest and hoped that other investors would follow suit if Swarthmore were to divest.
The demonstration began with Sara Blazevic ‘15, an MJ member, saying, “Every day it becomes more obvious how necessary this is.” She was followed by English Professor Betsy Bolton, who discussed ideology, asking the audience “how we come to grip” when we participate in something that we know is wrong. Will Lawrence ‘13 then passed out posters that outlined the stages of MJ’s campaign to audience members who lined up on the staircase alongside the dominoes, which they raised as the dominoes fell.
Some steps written on the posters have already occurred, including the New York Times article about divestment that was published last week and MJ’s meeting with the Board of Managers. Others are being planned, such as the 150-school divestment convergence scheduled for February. The final posters described what MJ hopes to see in the future; for example, Swarthmore’s eventual divestment from the “Sordid Sixteen,” sixteen companies within the fossil fuel industry, and divestment on an international scale. The final link in the chain was “Climate Justice and Sustainable Communities.”
Audience members received the demonstration well. “I'm really happy to see all the momentum that's building and having public events in well-used spaces like Parrish. I'm really quite hopeful,” said Amelia Dornbush ‘15.
Kojo Osei ‘15, who became interested in MJ after reading last week’s Times article, said, “I’m definitely for the divestment. It is a necessary step if we’re going to make a difference.”