Last Thursday, April 18, Amherst students overwhelmingly responded “yes” to an AAS student survey on coal divestment. The survey asked students if Amherst College should “divest from the coal industry (corporations engaged in coal extraction, mountain-top removal, coal refinement),” and provided informational sources for those who wanted to learn more before voting. Receiving 88 percent approval and recording nearly as many responses as the AAS presidential elections, the survey reflected strong student body commitment to coal divestment.

The possibility of ending the College’s investment in coal was first discussed on campus back in September, when Bill McKibben spoke to a crowd of almost 900 students, faculty members and town residents in Johnson Chapel. McKibben, the founder of the environmental group, delivered a speech outlining the hard climate realities our world faces today. He emphasized the need to take immediate action, and to that end, formally endorsed an Amherst coal divestment campaign.