by Emily Kirkland, Brown University
Last night, the Brown Divest Coal Campaign had our first planning retreat of the semester. It’s been a crazy, busy, and exhilirating two months. Our campaign, which didn’t even exist in August, has already accomplished an extraordinary amount. We’ve collected petitions from 1500 people (a quarter of Brown’s student body!) We’ve designed a kick-ass logo and have started screenprinting banners, posters and shirts. We’ve hosted a teach-in with three Brown professors and an activist from West Virginia — a huge hit! And we’ve all been planning for November 26th, when we’ll be welcoming Bill McKibben to campus as part of the 350.org roadshow.
Our administration has been responsive, too. We met with Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, a few weeks ago. We’ve also presented to an official committee charged with overseeing the endowment, and we’re hoping to hear a response from them within the next few weeks.
Every week is a blur of meetings, conversations with adminstrators, petition sessions, dorm storms, calls to reporters, emails, emails and more emails. It’s exciting, but it can also be overwheming. Last night, we sat down for the first time as a group to eat some spaghetti and apple cobbler and reflect on our progress so far.
Over and over, the same message emerged: this campaign has been an incredible opportunity to confront the power of the fossil fuel industry within our own community. I’ve a senior, and I’ve spent much of my time at Brown worrying and thinking about global warming and related issues. But this is the first time I’ve really felt able to do something about it on my own campus.
And as exhausting as it can be, that’s also incredibly exciting.