Okay. So I’m a week later than I wanted to be with this post… but the satisfaction still hasn’t died down!
After a couple of months of protesting weekly in creative ways to put pressure on King’s to divest from the fossil fuel industry… we have won! After decorating the campus, going on fasts, spraying walls with chalk-based paint… King’s College Climate Emergency (KCCE) have succeeded! We staged an occupation last Tuesday (I’m glad I got to do one before my student life is over) until we had a meeting with the Vice Principle to put the agreement into writing and go over our demands…
KCL, KCCE and KCLSU have agreed upon the following points, subject to confirmation by the College Council:
1. King’s College London students continue to demonstrate their commitment to creating a better world.
2. We are agreed that divestment is just one aspect of dealing with the imperative urgently to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
3. We will pump-prime new research to underpin this ‘carbon free’ delivery.
4. We agree that King’s College London will have divested from all fossil fuels by the end of the year 2022
5. King’s will be ‘carbon free’ by 2025, but this is dependent upon having options without significant financial impact.
6. King’s will increase its commitment to investments with socially responsible benefits from the present aim of 15% to an aspiration of at least 40% by 2025.
7. Regular progress towards delivering these targets will be made, including a formal annual report on progress.
So… I know this will not bring climate change to a halt (which would be ideal) but it is one small win, and similar action at LSE and UCL has already escalated this week. Campaigns for this cause have been going on for years without concrete results, and I consider myself to be blessed to be in the right place at the right time to play a part in staying on the right side of history. (Which, ironically, is probably by being pretty left…) The campaign would not have been successful without the incredible dedication of Roger Hallam, a KCL PHD student putting his ‘political activism’ degree to good use. He went on hunger strike for 14 days (FOURTEEN DAYS!,) took control of planning and press releases and made dealing with KCL staff a pleasure simply by having been a nice, friendly person to them in his time at the uni.
So, I have learnt several things from my experience. At first, I was extremely reluctant to engage in any ‘civil disobedience,’ however as the cause gained momentum I wanted to show solidarity to the other, more determined and braver protesters. Whilst I avoided painting on walls, I set off several smoke bombs and volunteered with two others to deal with security at the occupation (fortunately and surprisingly, they came in being lovely and asking us if we needed anything!) Learning about the law in my degree has taught me to steer clear of any risk of being on the wrong side of it… but now I question whether this is always the best approach when an injustice can be prevented. Speaking up is sometimes the only solution, and taking part in something bigger than yourself is truly touching. Being surrounded by like-minded people determined to contribute to making the world a better place has undoubtedly encouraged me to continue bettering myself by campaigning, volunteering, doing charity work and partaking in any other ways that I can spread the love! Not only have I met people with whom I hope to keep in touch with for a long time and made memories to last a lifetime, but I have learnt that in life you probably will be surrounded by many (if not most) people who don’t believe in you, or what you believe in, or have any faith that significant changes can be made with some chalk, flowers and cardboard signs. They can! Stay woke xxx
Oh yeah, and I made it into The Tab before my student days are over. Occupation… check! Tab mention… check! Challenging the establishment… check! Saving the world…….okay, still a long way to go with that one.
Sidenote: The occupation took place in The Old Committee Room at the Strand campus… which felt like we’d stepped straight into Dumbledore’s office. It was probably the poshest room I’ve slept in (curled up on the floor in the corner!) The room is covered in photos of old King’s headteachers. We played ‘Find the Brown Person’ and all lost.