ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Washington University says Saturday’s meeting between Chancellor Mark Wrighton and five members of the group taking part in a sit-in on campus was an exchange of healthy and respectful dialogue.

A prepared statement statement says Wash U. supports students rights and their ability to express opinions on the issue of coal or any other issue.

Members of the group “Students Against Peabody” are singing a different tune.

Representative Julia Ho says they were unable to get Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce dismissed from the university’s Board of Trustees, “Chancellor Wrighton does have the power to maybe not make the decision single-handedly, but he has the power to take a stance. The fact that he’s refusing to do that is a huge problem for this campus, a huge problem for this community, and a huge problem for the world.”

The student group wants Washington University to begin cutting ties with St. Louis-based Peabody, over what the activists’ literature calls a quote, “long record of environmental injustices and human rights abuses.”

Member Cameron Kinker is still hopeful change can be made, “Putting its money where its mouth is in terms of upholding values for human dignity and human rights. We don’t necessarily believe that having the CEO of Peabody Energy on our Board of Trustees really represents what our university stands for.”

The company responded to KMOX’s call for a statement by saying, “”Peabody is proud to support Washington University and its leadership in education, as well as clean coal research.”

Washington University’s statement sent to KMOX News on April 12, 2014:

Today, Chancellor Wrighton met with student representatives of the on-going sit-in. It was good opportunity to share more about each other’s perspectives and engage in the kind of respectful, healthy dialogue that we encourage on our campuses. We support our students’ right and ability to express their opinions on the issue of coal or any other issue. We want our students to be motivated and engaged citizens, to challenge themselves to think about serious issues, and to develop into strong leaders. This is a very important part of their academic experience at Washington University. Though we may not always agree, we take the opinions of our students seriously.

Meeting the world’s energy needs at an affordable cost and with minimum adverse effects on the environment is one of the greatest challenges of this century. As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Washington University has not only the potential, but the responsibility to participate in finding solutions to that challenge. In partnership with other organizations and institutions, our researchers and students are exploring remarkable possibilities to make alternative energy sources more viable. Take, for example, the work of our PARC Center where researchers are making real progress toward capturing the renewable energy generated through photosynthesis – a concept that was considered unattainable until efforts like this moved forward. Washington University 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.

The university’s important work is made possible through a combination of government funding and the support of private sector partners. Such support is what allows our talented faculty, staff and students to make a meaningful difference and improve the quality of life in our own community and across the globe.

Coal is, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, an essential source of energy for the United States and the world. Our focus must be on continuing our research to find viable and scalable alternatives and to reduce impacts.”


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