Diermeier and the Giant Unicorn Episode Art
Pictures from two DoresDivest protests and a digital recreation of the giant unicorn head (Photos courtesy Miguel Moravec and Abhinav Krishnan, design by Cara Kim)
Cara Kim

Diermeier and the giant unicorn: Understanding fossil fuel divestment

The fossil fuel divestment movement has taken Vanderbilt by storm. So what do these students want and why does it matter?

As Vanderbilt’s Ninth Chancellor, Daniel Diermeier started his inaugural Founder’s Walk speech, student activists wearing orange beanies and carrying big white posters with big red letters began protesting silently behind him.

And then, from behind the trees, emerged a giant pink unicorn.

For many new students, this marked the true beginning of a movement to encourage the university to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

So in the face of this pressure, Vanderbilt divested right?

Not exactly.

At an alumni event, just two months after the Founders Walk Protest, Chancellor Diermeier was asked about the university’s stance on fossil fuel divestment. His response?

“We will not do that.”

Since then, student activists have relentlessly pursued their goal of fossil fuel divestment through both disruptive and non-disruptive means.

So will Vanderbilt ever divest?

In the first episode of our three-part series on divestment, we will talk to the students at the heart of these organizations to understand what they want, why this issue matters, and the challenges they currently face.


This episode was reported by Abhinav Krishnan, Trent Griffith and Nandika Chirala. Abhinav Krishnan is also our Host and Executive Producer. Brynn Jones is our Audio Producer, Cara Kim is our Audience Engagement Manager and Emery Little designed our logo.

All of the music in this episode was produced by Brynn Jones or sampled from Goldfinch by Axletree under a Creative Commons License

Thanks to Miguel Moravec, Emily Irigoyen and Hannah Bruns for sharing their stories.

Thanks also to the Vanderbilt Communications Department, the Office of Investments and the Office of the Chancellor for answering our questions.

Special thanks to Atman Mehta at the Chicago Maroon for helping us navigate the SEC’s Edgar database and Mike Vasquez at the Chronicle of Higher Education for helping us focus our reporting. Additional thanks to Jessica Barker, Juliana Kim and Samantha Max for reviewing our script.

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About the Contributors
Abhinav Krishnan
Abhinav Krishnan, Former Staff Writer and Data Staffer
Abhinav Krishnan ('23) majored in political science and economics. You can reach him at [email protected].
Brynn Jones
Brynn Jones, Staff Podcaster
Brynn Jones ('24) is from Nashville, Tennesssee, and is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. In her free time, she enjoys songwriting and playing guitar. You can reach her at [email protected]
Trent Griffith
Trent Griffith, Staff Podcaster
Trent Griffith ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in economics with a minor in cinema and media arts. He previously wrote for the News section. When not writing episodes for College Voices, Trent loves to go on runs, watch Bojack Horseman and eat entire an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. You can reach him at [email protected].
Nandika Chirala, Staff Podcaster
Nandika Chirala ('25) is majoring in economics and math and minoring in vocal performance in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Dallas, Texas, and her favorite movie is the original Space Jam! You can reach her at [email protected].
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Comments (1)

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VU Alumnus
2 years ago

Divest from China, not fossil fuels.