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Harvard Arrests Student, Ending Fossil-Fuel Holdings Protest

Harvard University police arrested a student blocking an entrance to the building housing President Drew Faust’s office, ending a protest over fossil-fuel holdings as it stretched into a second day.

Brett Roche, a junior, was arrested as he and other protesters attempted to block entrances to Massachusetts Hall, according to Divest Harvard, a student-led group. The protest began yesterday as the group demanded a meeting with trustees of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university to advocate selling investments in fossil-fuel companies blamed for global warming.

“Our action revealed to us how far our trustees are willing to go to avoid an open dialogue,” said Alli Welton, a leader of the group, which has been calling for the sale of fossil-fuel holdings since 2012.

Kevin Galvin, a Harvard spokesman, said the police and university agreed not to press charges and the student was released by the court this morning.

“Harvard welcomes the exchange of ideas and respects the rights of individuals to air differing views,” Galvin said in an e-mailed statement. “At the same time, we put a premium on respecting the rights of individuals to carry out their duties to the institution.”

Members of Divest Harvard have had three closed-door meetings since 2012 with some members of Harvard Corp., the school’s governing board, the most recent in September, Welton said. The group is agitating for an open meeting that includes all of the trustees.

Last month, almost 100 Harvard faculty members sent a letter to Faust asking that the world’s richest school sell interests in oil, gas and coal companies. Faust has repeatedly declined calls to divest, saying that while the university is committed to sustainable investing it can better advance efforts to combat global warming through research and teaching.

Harvard’s endowment is valued at $32.7 billion.

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