D-Day: rally outside Senate House before Council meets

Will Bennett 21 May 2018

Around 200-300 students protested in front of Senate House this morning, with its walls newly cleaned after the chalk-spray protest of last week.

Rally attendance was probably around its strongest from the last year, as Zero Carbon lobbied the University to divest once again.  The University Council meets later today to discuss the future of University investments in fossil fuels.

At the rally several speeches were given outlining the effect of investment in fossil fuels and Cambridge's complicity in casualties in the Global South.  One speaker suggested that Cambridge opposes the "global direction" of consensus regarding divestment.  There was a general theme that Cambridge's objective to be a "world leader" stretched only as far as its wealth of knowledge and conventional successes, rather than leading the world in fighting climate change.

Chanting ensued accompanied by the ringing of pots, pans and other kitchen utensils which ranged from "I say fossil, you say free" and "hey, ho, fossil fuels have got to go", through to re-worked pop songs whose reworked lyrics were muttered more softly.  On the morning of the event, the rally was publicized, "Rise and shine! HYPE" and the call to action was matched by the energy of the rally as it set off round the corner towards Old Schools and a towering flare smothered the walls of Gonville and Caius in orange smoke.  As the protest reached the heavy doors of the Old Schools building, the clamour could be heard from the boundary of the Sidgwick Site.

In front of Old Schools, more speakers took up the microphone where protesters have been blocking the passage for the past half hour.

Students have also lobbied the University Counsellor, Umang Khandelwal, in an open letter signed by 16 student societies earlier this week, asking her to use her voice for the cause of divestment.  She has been asked to "publicly come out in favour of divestment".  While campaigning she pledged to "scrutinize the University over ethical standards".