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Washington University Student Protest Continues

Washington University.
Washington University.

Monday marks the seventh day that a group of students at Washington University has conducted a sit-in on campus to protest the school’s relationship with Peabody Energy.

The coal company’s president and CEO, Greg Boyce, sits on the university’s board of trustees. Peabody and other companies help fund research at the college’s Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization.

Student Jamal Sadrud-Din says Peabody’s activities harm both the environment and vulnerable communities.

‘I think students really care about our university and holding Wash U. accountable for the relationships they have with people, in terms of environmental concerns and social justice concerns,” Sadrud-Din said.

The protesters want Boyce removed from the board of trustees. Student organizer Megan Odenthal says a meeting with Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton this weekend ended in stalemate.

“It became clear to us from the get-go that Chancellor Wrighton is not yet at a point where he’s willing to negotiate with us on our demands, and we still had more work to do to convince the administration to take us seriously. So that culminated in us walking out of that meeting,” Odenthal said.

Odenthal estimates that about 20-40 students are sleeping each night outside the university’s administrative building.  

In a statement, Washington University said that it supports students’ right and ability to express their opinions about coal or any other issue. It said the college has the responsibility to help find solutions to the challenge of meeting the world’s energy needs.