Twelve members of NYU Divest are occupying the administrative elevator in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library until several demands are met by the university. This action comes in response to a letter the group delivered to President Andrew Hamilton last week, for which the group has not yet received a formal response.
The group said it will remain in the elevator until three specific demands are met. Divest asked NYU to divest direct holdings in fossil fuel companies, hold a full board meeting open to the public that reconsiders university divestment and commit new funds to carbon-free screens.
In 2016, the group held a similar occupation, which ended after 33 hours under threats from the university that the participants would be summarily suspended.
Divest members said the group chose the location of the administrative elevator largely due to its symbolic presence at the university.
“There is a carefully guarded elevator that goes up to the administrative offices, and students can’t really access the elevator or communicate with their administrators,” Divest member and NYU Law student Olivia Rich said. “This really demonstrates the lack of transparency at NYU, and that’s why we chose to occupy this elevator today.”
NYU Executive Vice President Martin Dorph sent a letter to NYU Divest this morning in reaction to its occupation, saying that the university has already divested direct holdings in fossil fuel companies, and currently only holds investments in these companies through commingled funds. NYU Divest has responded to Dorph’s claims with a letter of its own, saying that these claims contradict its previous research and requesting a third party verification of its claims.
Members are currently unwilling to say that they will cease their occupation if they face similar threats, but they have not yet ruled out the possibility of holding their ground under threat of suspension.
“I don’t want to completely divulge what our strategy is,” Rich said. “But I think we’ve learned from last time.”
The story will be updated as more information is reported.
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