Last week climate protesters occupied St John’s College front quad, in response to the college’s refusal to divest from their fossil fuel endowment.
St John’s currently hold £8.1 million in fossil fuel endowment, from Shell and BP. This is the largest investment of any Oxford college.
The action comes after Balliol college decided to divest. In a statement Balliol commented that it planned to reduce its endowment’s fossil fuel exposure, “as far and as fast as practicable.”
Fergus Green, organiser at Direct Action for Divestment, commented: “It’s unjustifiable that our wealthiest educational institutions continue to profit from the exploitation of the most marginalised – those who are being affected most by the climate crisis.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for St John’s College said: “St John’s College keeps all investments and investment policies under regular review. Its main portfolio adviser assesses all companies with regard to their ethical, social and governance stance and updates its advice to the College on a regular basis.
“The College is currently engaged in a wide-ranging review of its investment policies, which will report to Governing Body in due course. The group working on this includes both Governing Body Fellows and student representatives.”
Andrew Parker, Bursar of St John’s College wrote to two St John’s students saying: “I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice. But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”
The Bursar later claimed he was attempting to be “provocative.”
A rally was held on Thursday in solidarity with the protesters. From 12:30 to 2pm, there was an inter-sectional solidarity demonstration outside the entrance to St John’s College.
Direct Action Divestment (DAD) explained their motivation for occupying the college in a statement. They said: “St John’s College is the wealthiest in Oxford and a leader in its research fields, so has a responsibility to set an example for other Oxford colleges, pension and sovereigh wealth funds.
“However, the opposite is true, and it lags well behind. Over 50% of UK universities have announced they will no longer invest in fossil fuels… yet St John’s continues to do so.”
Extinction Rebellion Oxford are supporting the protest, tweeting: “No more coal, no more oil, leave the carbon in the soil!”