Students at Washington University in St. Louis on Tuesday started an outdoor sit-in, pledging to camp out on campus until the university cuts ties to Peabody Energy, a coal company. The company's CEO, Greg Boyce, has been a donor and serves on the board. Further, the students object to research that they say falsely suggests that the environmental issues associated with the use of coal can be minimized. They are vowing to continue their protest until the university position changes.
The university issued a statement affirming the right of the students to protest, but defending research related to coal. "Washington University ... is a significant contributor to finding solutions to the world¹s energy challenges. Our researchers are focused on making alternative energy sources more viable," the statement says. "Our researchers also are focused on mitigating the environmental impact of the use of coal, including approaches to capturing and storing carbon dioxide that accompanies combustion of any fossil fuel. It is this dual approach that will allow us to address the greatest global issues of this century. As a world-class research university, Washington University not only has the potential, but the responsibility, to participate in finding those solutions."