[MCN] 130 Person Sit-in at UM Foundation Offices to Call on Mack Clapp to Divest from Fossil Fuels Leads to Trespass Charges for Eight UM Students & Community Members

Caitlin Piserchia capiserchia at gmail.com
Fri Apr 28 12:46:25 EDT 2017

News Release

130 Person Sit-in at UM Foundation Offices to Call on Mack Clapp to Divest
from Fossil Fuels Leads to Eight UM Students & Community Members Cited for

Contact: Tess Gallagher Clancy, 406-210-2234, gc_tess at yahoo.com

     Beverly Sitton, 406-239-6571, sittonbeverly at gmail.com

         Hannah Gale, 406-381-1488, hannah.gale at umontana.edu

Friday, April 28th — This week, in conjunction with sit-ins at Swarthmore
College, University of Colorado, and UC Berkeley, students at the
University of Montana held a three-day sit-in at Gilkey Center, home of the
UM Foundation offices. Students continue to call on the UM Foundation Board
of Trustees and Mack Clapp, chairman of the investment committee, to stand
with students and take action on fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment
The sit-in, lasting three days with 130 participants, ended on Thursday,
April 27th when eight students and community members were cited with
misdemeanor trespass after refusing to leave Gilkey due to lack of response
from UM Foundation decisionmakers.

Members of Reinvest Montana, the divestment campaign at UM, have been
calling on Mack Clapp to stand on the right side of history and divest from
fossil fuels; students have vowed to continue pushing this issue if the UM
Foundation continues to deflect student concerns. "The claim that one can
be neutral in times of crisis is a myth. Our universities must stand
against the climate crisis endangering our collective future, and join
students in fostering a just transition that supports workers, communities
directly impacted by the fossil fuel industry, and our ecosystems,” said
Simon Dykstra, senior at UM.

The sit-in was accompanied by two rallies, in which several students and
faculty spoke out in favor of divestment. Notable speakers during the rally
included Nobel Laureate Dr. Steve Running and ASUM President Sam Forstag,
as well as Reinvest Montana co-coordinator Beverly Sitton.

“People all around the world suffer when we invest in fossil fuels. By
putting money into an industry that is responsible for making waters toxic,
destroying lands, and is the main contributor to climate change the UM
Foundation goes against the university's core tenet of sustainability, goes
against what the student body has repeatedly said it wants the Foundation
to invest its money in, and makes the planet much less livable for the
future,” said Beverly, a sophomore at UM.

After three-and-a-half years of organizing and no action on divestment
since the Board’s 2015 statement, UM students are taking bolder action as
the climate crisis becomes more urgent. In response to the sit-in, the
official UM Foundation response was to redirect students to ASUM: “the
board of trustees requests that Reinvest Montana, as a recognized ASUM
student group, forward questions and concerns to the UM Foundation through
the ASUM Senate, which we recognize as the official representatives and
advocates of the student body.” The UM Foundation’s Board of Trustees
recently voted not to allow ASUM a student seat on the board, and ASUM is
considering suing.

“We resorted to direct action because we don’t know where else to turn.
This isn’t about personal attention. It’s about fossil fuel divestment, but
it’s also about university structures that have no problem sweeping student
voices aside, which is exactly what the University of Montana says it
doesn’t want to do right now,” said Tess Gallagher Clancy, co-coordinator
of Reinvest Montana.

On Thursday evening, as part of yearly ASUM elections, students passed a
second campus-wide referendum recommending divestment and reinvestment.

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