This February 22 to 24, nearly 200 students from dozens of colleges across the country will come together at Swarthmore College for Power Up! Divest Fossil Fuels, a student-organized convergence of youth activists working to divest their colleges’ endowments from fossil fuel companies. While college administrations have largely been hostile towards divestment, student campaigns have been gaining attention nationwide with petitions, referendums, public art displays and rallies, and students are ready to escalate their campaigns by putting more pressure on administrations through direct action. The upcoming convergence will be an opportunity for students from across the country to meet, share skills and develop strategy to grow a powerful national movement.
Events Open to the General Public
Convergence Organizing Principles
[Written by convergence organizers] The 2013 student convergence at Swarthmore College will be an opportunity for students from across the country working for fossil fuel divestment to meet, share skills, and develop strategy for a powerful national movement. A coalition of organizers from multiple campuses across the country are currently working together to plan an amazing convergence! In organizing and facilitating the convergence, we strive to uphold the following principles:
Importance of Student Power:
- We are grateful for the institutional and organizational support from NGO’s and prominent activist but affirm that Power Up! is a convergence created for students by students.
- We must build student power in ways that strengthen a national coalition of organizations capable of continuing struggles for social justice beyond divestment victory by developing organizational power and leadership on campuses first and foremost.
- As we work to build a mass movement to fight the oppression of the fossil fuel industry, we must also confront forms of oppression and hierarchy in our own organizations and movement.
- We must look at how we conduct meetings, organize events, and communicate with one another and ask the questions: who is present? who is absent? how are hierarchical and oppressive behaviors operating and how can we overcome them?
- We must recognize that oppression operates simultaneously on personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural, and systemic levels in ways that interlock and reinforce one another. Developing skills to confront oppression at every level makes our organizations powerful, more affirmative of diversity, and resilient.
- We must create a space together that is accessible to all interested students including those who identity as differently abled, working class, poor, gender non-conforming/variant, queer, and students of color.
Environmental/Economic Justice Framework:
Environmental Justice challenges the ways in which the unequal distribution of resources and the ramifications of climate change disproportionately harm communities on the frontlines of extraction, burning, and climate change, especially low-income and communities of color.
- We must recognize that Divestment is only one “tool in the toolbox.”
- We must recognize Divestment as a form of solidarity organizing – a way to be an ally with frontline organizations.
- We must to strive to be active allies by building relationships with frontline communities, sharing their stories, and joining them in their struggles.
- We must recognize the ways different social movements intersect. Instead of seeing different issues in competition, we should look for opportunities for synergy and solidarity.
- We must work in concert with other movements using divestment as a tactic, including Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) around Israeli occupation and divestment from the prison industrial complex
- We refuse to accept divestment that will result in lowering financial aid and actively encourage companies to work on reinvestment initiatives so that funds taken from the fossil fuel industry can be used for positive and productive climate work.
Personal Growth and Empowerment:
This student convergence should be empowering on an individual level. Our collective strength is built upon the energy, skills, and well-being of our organizers. Each participant is encouraged to speak up, share from their experience, and take the full opportunity to grow as an organizer in ways that are creative, energizing ,and fun.
National Movement Building:
We hope that student participants will take their time at the convergence to think critically about the growing national divestment movement and ways in which we can support and courage each other when we return home.