Direct Action FAQs
In order to communicate the urgency that Stanford do everything it can to foster a livable climate, students are committing to participate in direct action.
There is a powerful and valuable history of direct action and civil disobedience globally, nationally, and within the Stanford community. In the lead-up to the action, there will be a mandatory training for all participants in which we discuss the legal risks involved, the messages we hope to convey as individuals and as a collective, and also the brave actions that others have taken, the gravity of civil disobedience as a means of protest, and the history of civil disobedience on campus and beyond.
Q: What is a Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA)?
NVDA is a peaceful act in which participants choose not to comply with laws or rules as a means of protest.
Q: What is the difference between an act of civil disobedience and NVDA?
Civil disobedience is also a form of NVDA, but it is more specific. This tactic is used to bring attention to an unjust law or rule by breaking it, in order to push for its repeal.
Because our use of NVDA is to encourage full fossil fuel divestment and not the removal of any law or rule, our action will be labeled an NVDA and no longer labeled an act of civil disobedience.
Stanford anti-apartheid activists blocked the car of a Board of Trustees member in 1985. (Aurora Forum)
Q: When and where will the direct action be held?
The direct action action will occur if Stanford fails to divest from oil and gas before the international climate negotiations, to be held in Paris at the end of November. The time, location, and legal details of the action will be shared with participants in the coming weeks.
Q: Why is the direct action pledge happening now?
For three years, Stanford students, faculty, and alumni have called upon the Board to divest from fossil fuels. For decades, the dangerous ramifications of climate change have been apparent. Yet Stanford continues to maintain a vested interest in the success of fossil fuel companies, companies which have understood the consequences of their product for forty years and have buried the truth beneath irresponsible lies.
Now is the time when Stanford’s divestment will have maximal impact in making our climate hospitable. The international climate negotiations that will begin in Paris at the end of November have been deemed by the U.N. the “last chance to adopt a global agreement that makes it possible to secure a safe climate.”
We hope that the civil disobedience pledge will encourage the Board of Trustees to act on a timeline commensurate with the urgency required for a safe climate.
Q: What else should I be aware of?
As we discuss, sign, and consider this pledge for civil disobedience, it is important to reflect upon the the gravity of this tactic as a means of protest, and upon the brave actions others have taken. Civil disobedience has played a particularly powerful role in social justice movements, both historic and recent. The compelling and courageous actions of social justice movements are vital to making fossil fuel divestment worthwhile.
A goal of fossil fuel divestment is to help us move past fossil fuels and contribute to a more livable climate for all. But around the world, the impacts of climate change disproportionately impact oppressed and marginalized communities, people of color and low-income people. Therefore, publicly recognizing these unequal impacts and supporting the most impacted communities is critical to progressing toward a world in which the severity of climate change is minimized, and the distribution of its impacts is equalized.
Q: What else can I do?
If you do not wish to participate in civil disobedience, but you would like to support the call for timely divestment from oil and gas, there are many other very valuable ways to get involved. We know this civil disobedience pledge will raise a lot of questions and concerns, both of which Fossil Free Stanford is eager to engage.
Questions? Feedback? Contact Fossil Free Stanford