NYU Divest stormed the staircases of Bobst Library armed with diapers, blankets and canned goods as the environmental activists prepared for a sit-in on the 12th floor in front of university administration offices, threatening to wait until they were guaranteed a meeting with the Board of Trustees.
In April 2015, Divest had been promised a meeting with the Board of Trustees, but subsequent delays led to the meeting never happening, forcing the student group’s hand into taking more serious action.
It didn’t take long for the university to acquiesce on Wednesday. Divest had prepared for a long night, but within half an hour of the sit-in, Senior Vice President for University Relations Lynne Brown came to address the group’s request for a meeting and proposed a date of Jan. 20 for Divest to speak in front of a Board sub-committee.
Some Divest members were skeptical at how quickly the administration was able to establish a date. Members also said the date was more on the administration’s timeline than the students’ because it coincided with winter break.
After some deliberation amongst the Divest members, founder of NYU Divest Sophie Lasoff said she would like to negotiate some key points with Brown, like pushing the meeting back to February when students would be back on campus.
“We would also like an additional meeting with the full Board of Trustees as promised,” Lasoff said. “We would also like to request an email confirmation explicitly stating that the committee will include an ally to divestment as promised during our April meeting with President Sexton.”
CAS junior and Divest member Olivia Rich said the group’s main concern was that the Board will be hand-picking members to meet with Divest.
“We need to ensure we have an ally on the sub-committee,” Rich said. “We know the committee must be objective but we want to make sure it represents varying opinions from the Board.”
Brown said she did not have the logistical capability to contact everyone at the moment but was open to rescheduling a date as soon as possible.
“I do think changing the date is a reasonable request and I can assure you we will come up with a date,” Brown said. “You will certainly get a meeting before the end of February. But anything else you request, should be brought up with the committee.”
With regards to having an ally on the committee, Brown said the Board looks for a range of experience and diversity of ideology within members to ensure Divest will have a meeting that will make progress toward reaching their demands.
“You will have a designated member of the Board who is aware of divestment issues as your point of contact,” Brown said. “It will be someone who the Board Chair thinks will come with an open mind. The Board Chair would like this to be dealt with in an inclusive and fair way.”
After agreeing to reschedule a date with the sub-committee, Divest proposed a list of expectations to the administration including the sub-committee having a diverse set of opinions, Divest members being a part of all sub-committee meetings and putting fossil fuel divestment on the Board agenda.
Lasoff said Divest is a campaign that is accountable to its constituency and these expectations will ensure the administration can be held responsible to the agreement made today.
“I feel that it is essential to have transparency as a campaign because we have hundreds of students behind us supporting the movement,” Lasoff said. “It’s important to us that we have some sort of assurance that the Board will hear from us.”
Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected]