At This Year’s Harvard-Yale, Divest Wins | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson

Photo: Timothy R. O’Meara

By The Crimson Editorial Board This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.
November 25, 2019

At this year’s edition of The Game, hundreds of protesters flooded the field during halftime to demand both universities divest from fossil fuels and Puerto Rican debt. The protests began with a small number of demonstrators walking onto the field, but soon hundreds of spectators joined them, causing a game delay of nearly an hour.

We commend our peers that both participated in and helped organize the protest. At its best, protest challenges the status quo, drawing increased attention to injustice. Protest, in that sense, is meant to be disruptive. By that metric, this protest was highly effective.

We appreciate the planning and investment that Divest Harvard and Fossil Fuel Yale have put into the fossil fuel divestment movement at large and here specifically. To students who participated in divestment activism for the first time, we encourage you to follow up on this protest with further efforts towards important change on your respective campuses.

We’ve expressed our support in the past for divesting from fossil fuels, and we are supportive of these protests as part of an effort to achieve that goal. We also want to recognize the risk, passion, and labor of those protesting for divestment of Puerto Rican debt. We have previously made it clear that the standard for divestment from a particular set of funds should be extremely high. That said, these activists have done enormous work toward raising awareness around the issue of Puerto Rican debt investment. As we have opined in the past, divestment as a symbolic statement of principles matters, and these protesters have made a powerful claim for public attention.

Some in the stadium booed the protesters for holding up the game, and officials called for protesters to leave the field out of respect for the athletes. We emphatically disagree with claims that the protests constituted an act of disrespect for the players. We recognize that this protest impacted The Game, and we recognize and respect the impressive effort student athletes put into preparing for it. However, we do not think a recognition of their effort is inconsistent with supporting broader calls for climate justice and divestment. Statements of support from members of both teams emphasize that this protest was not out of place but well-fit for the context and moment.

In fact, the timing and nature of this event exemplify the kind of disruptive protest that will hopefully lead to meaningful institutional change. Noting Harvard’s seeming indifference to forms of protest it could easily ignore, we called for further discussion as to what sorts of protest might be be more impactful without risking the silencing of other groups or events. A demonstration of admirable strategic thinking, the protest at the Game appears to have accomplished just that. We are hopeful that Divest’s important work will continue, and, ultimately, win out.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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