DivestVU, Dores Divest plan Feb. 23 protest, will reportedly include ‘14-foot mystical creature’

The protest will begin at Central Library and end at Kirkland Hall. It will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CST.


Hunter Long

Kirkland Tower after heavy snowfall on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021 (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Immanual John Milton, Editor in Chief

As mentioned in the widely-circulated “Handsome Ron” email, DivestVU and Dores Divest are planning a 32 to 40-person protest from Central Library to Kirkland Hall on Feb. 23 from 2-3:30 p.m. CST.

In addition to the protest, a Dores Divest representative said in a message to The Hustler that the organization would be contributing a 14-foot mystical creature to the disruption, along with a few other surprises.

“Be on the lookout for a tall, mysterious [and] mystical creature,” the representative said.

The representative was given anonymity due to the potential for university disciplinary action.

In an effort to comply with COVID-19 regulations, student organizations worked with Vanderbilt administrators including Dean of Students Mark Bandas when planning their protest, per DivestVU cofounder junior Emily Irigoyen.

“Given that we’re in a world where COVID-19 is the norm, it’s not just a way for people to feel comfortable about not going to Student Accountability; it’s also a way for people to feel comfortable that [it has] the Vanderbilt seal of approval,” Irigoyen said. “The plans follow COVID-19 guidelines. People should not have to be worried about getting in trouble and also [the] potentially fatal virus.”

Other student groups have officially supported the protest, including Indigenous Student Organization (ISO), Hidden Dores, Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), Sunrise, Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) and Lambda, per Graduate Student Council (GSC) representative Miguel Moravec. 

At 2 p.m. CST, the protest will begin at Central Library and travel to Kirkland Hall. After students get set up at Kirkland, a series of speakers organized by DivestVU and Dores Divest will be present. The protest will conclude at 3:30 p.m. CST, according to Irigoyen.

ISO representative Courtney Sanders will kick off the speech portion with a land acknowledgment. Following Sanders’ acknowledgment, Hidden Dores member Ember Tharpe, Moravec, former Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) Senator Hannah Bruns, first-year Ben Hayden and Student Body Vice President Shun Ahmed will speak. The protest will conclude with ISO members Gabby Guarna and Ana Fonongava’inga Stringer, per Irigoyen.

Ahmed said in a message to The Hustler that she believes that divestment and climate change are causes that affect everyone.

“Feb. 23 is hopefully another reminder that we as Vanderbilt students have the collective ability to challenge administrators in ways that are loud and ‘improper’ without seeming rude or ungrateful,” Ahmed said.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier commented on the planned protests in a recent Feb. 20 interview with The Hustler.

“It’s important for students to make their voices heard and that includes being advocates for specific issues and to be protesting. It’s always important, particularly in the time of COVID, that they are coordinated with us to make sure that everything is done safely and in a manner that doesn’t disrupt university operations,” Diermeier said.

Diermeier also said in a Nov. 19 interview with The Hustler that the endowment is not an “advocacy tool.”

Moravec said that the administration needs to engage in more communication with student organizations. 

“We want more of a response from the administration,” Moravec said.

This protest follows divestment approval from both GSC and VSG, as well as the Dores Divest email pushing for divestment that impersonated the chancellor.

While DivestVU and Dores Divest have yet to announce next steps following the protest, both Irigoyen and Moravec cited the Faculty Senate as their next target in the fight towards divestment.

“This is honestly just the beginning. If this protest goes well, we’re hoping to host other events possibly this school year and next school year,” Irigoyen said.