Students at the Harvard Law School voted in support of a referendum calling on Harvard University to divest from fossil fuel companies, becoming the second student body after the College to vote in support of divestment.
In a five-day vote that took place last week, 67 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of the divestment initiative, which calls on Harvard to divest from direct holdings in the top 200 public fossil fuel companies and to cease any future investment in those companies.
According to an email sent by the Student Representative Board—the student government at the Law School—the referendum drew 782 voters—approximately 40 percent of the Law School’s total enrollment.
“Frankly, the urgency and the congressional inaction when it comes to fossil fuels deserves singular, driven, concentrated action by students,” said Sean Hamidi, a second-year law student who is part of the group that is organizing the divestment push at the Law School.
Hamidi added that he was excited by the result of the referendum.
“It’s really exciting and inspiring because law students get so much flak for not caring about things or for being removed from the broader student community,” Hamidi said. “I think that the referendum went a long way in demonstrating that Harvard law students recognize how important global warming is.”
Hamidi, along with several peers, started the referendum process in mid-April when they gathered over 250 signatures to present to the SRB. The SRB and the divestment group then presented the finalized referendum question to the general student body on April 22, which Hamidi said was chosen because it was Earth Day.
According to the same email from the SRB to law school students, the SRB will be sending a letter to University President Drew G. Faust and the Law School administration “encouraging them to work with the student leaders to effect this change.”
While Hamidi was happy with the success of the referendum, he said that he recognized that it was only the first step in what will be a longer fight to get the University to divest.
“Our goal for the summer is to plan, organize, and build power, because in the fall, we’re going to come back stronger, and we’re going to push for more direct action calling on the University to divest from fossil fuels,” Hamidi said. “We’re really looking to work with other schools at the University to build the movement and to apply pressure on the administration.”
—Staff writer Steven S. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSJLee.