Protest at St. John's College

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A Professor at St John's College, Oxford has refused to cooperate with alarmist demands. This is summarised from The Times, 31 January 2020

How do you respond when placard-waving students occupy your 15th-century quadrangle and refuse to leave until you sell the college's shares in oil companies? As this is Oxford, naturally you present them with a philosophical dilemma.

Two students at St John's College wrote to Andrew Parker, the principal bursar, this week requesting a meeting to discuss the protesters' demands, which are that the college "declares a climate emergency and immediately divests from fossil fuels". They say that the college, the richest in Oxford, has 8 million of its 551 million endowment fund invested in BP and Shell.

Professor Parker responded as follows. "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."

Ankit Ranjan, a biomedicine undergraduate, wrote back saying that he was willing to put the offer to the students but he suspected the bursar was being facetious. He thought the offer would reflect poorly on the college.

Professor Parker replied: "You are right that I am being provocative but I am provoking some clear thinking, I hope. It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal)."

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