The University of Pennsylvania opposes selling its $20 billion fund out of fossil fuels and reinvesting it in Philadelphia schools and housing. At homecoming his football game this year, the state’s largest private police force in Penn called for the university to move away from fossil fuels and reinvest in his Philadelphia community. detained 19 students and activists. As a candidate studying environmental justice for my PhD, I am ashamed to be a student at this university.
Many of us agree that the 2022 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will reach a tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius within 20 years, prompting rapid and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions to limit the climate catastrophe. I am aware that I have asked you to reduce The University of Pennsylvania lags far behind other schools in selling donations from fossil fuels. Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton have all made commitments and taken significant steps toward a sale. Each of these commitments came after sustained student pressure, protests, and direct action. In 2019, during a Harvard-Yale football game, hundreds of protesters stormed the field to demand a sale.
Meanwhile, Penn is also complicit in the ongoing gentrification in West Philadelphia. Sixty-eight black and low-income families are being forced to leave his 40th and Market Street homes while Philadelphia’s public school system urgently needs funding. Protesters are demanding Penn pledge her $5 million to her $10 million to stop the sale of townhomes to developers and eventually make payments instead of taxes . But just as the university resists divestment, it’s actively damaging the city when it doesn’t help preserve the UC Townhome or pay his PILOT. No matter what the administration tells us, Penn chose to criminalize protests at Homecoming rather than publicly endorse climate science and social justice.
In my class, I try to teach my students to think critically about the stories institutions and governments tell about their histories, morals, and ethics. Literature teaches us to empathize with people who are different from us. It also teaches us to decipher and interpret stories and not take words at face value.Statements released by the administration shortly after the protests remind me of something of George Orwell 1984“Intentionally disrupting today’s football game was neither an appropriate expression of free speech nor consistent with Penn’s open speech guidelines,” the statement read. By calling this powerful direct action “deliberate confusion,” Penn undermines the gravity of the problem and shifts the blame from his own unethical investments onto students resisting his authority. I’m here. It’s not “inappropriate” to disrupt football matches to demand Penn take action against the climate and housing crises that threaten everyday life.
The statement continues: “Penn’s guidelines on open expression defend these rights [to free speech, thought, inquiry, and lawful assembly] We also confirm that the University’s business is not … compromised. If the Open Expression Guidelines claim to defend the very right of the regime to undermine and criminalize, then these guidelines must be broken. When is the “right” time to move away from fossil fuels? Why shouldn’t the university’s business be compromised when people in Philadelphia are losing their homes? is more important than free speech, just increasing college endowments ballooned to over $20 billion again during the pandemic.
I’m graduating pen with a PhD, but I’m not going to walk in English any time soon. It is a great privilege to have a PhD from this university. This university has provided me with countless professional opportunities. I am also honored to be part of the community of activists on campus. But even if I get lucky and get a job at another institution, I dread the first day when I’m expected to wear my university regalia. , betrayed all students interested in developing a city in which all residents could thrive.
As an environmental justice scholar, he refuses to move away from fossil fuels, refuses to pay PILOT to the city, and has not helped stop the evacuation of 68 families living just blocks away from the center of campus. How can you represent the school? —Besides all this—does it hold protesters with its own private police force? was a six-year effort.
Jane Robbins Mize PhD. English-language candidates studying Literature, Environment and Environmental Justice.her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.