Student protesters interrupted an ExxonMobil recruiting event Tuesday in the Lincoln Field Building to call attention to the company’s lack of action to prevent climate change.
Around 12 students attended the ExxonMobil recruitment event, meant to advertise the oil and gas company’s job and internship programs, while nearly 60 students entered in protest after the event’s start. Sunrise Movement Brown — a recently-restarted student organization dedicated to mobilizing students to advocate for climate policy and environmental justice — organized the protest.
At 12:01 p.m., one minute after the event was scheduled to begin, Sunrise Movement Brown protesters, led by hub coordinator Isaac Slevin ’25, marched into the conference room of the building chanting: “No more coal! No more oil! Keep the carbon in the soil!”
Slevin delivered a speech in front of students and the ExxonMobil recruiters, calling attention to the company’s effect on the environment and what he described as a failure to commit to large-scale change.
“You say you’re here to talk about renewable energy and act like you’re going to be the company of the future,” Slevin said, addressing the recruitment team. “But only 0.16% of your expenditures in 2021 were (made) to low-carbon investments. That’s not what we stand for at Brown.”
The recruitment event’s description emphasized the company’s low-carbon energy sources: “Exxon has recently reconfigured to focus on diverse energy sources, and they are hiring not only in traditional oil and gas but also in renewable energies, carbon capture and storage, data sciences and related fields.”
ExxonMobil did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Slevin also emphasized the permanent damage from the fossil fuel industry on the environment and reiterated how those effects make joining the company antithetical to having a positive impact after graduating from Brown.
“This shouldn’t be a future for any one of these students here who are trying to make a difference in the world,” he said. “Fossil fuels have no place on our campus. They have no place in the world. We need to stop spending money on any of them.”
The recruiters told students that they are “working on low-carbon solutions of CO2 sequestration” as a company.
“That’s corporate lip service,” Slevin said in response. “It’s proven to be corporate lip service. So we’re going to continue to be anti-fossil fuels and try to force y’all off campus.”
Slevin said the protest was organized quickly.
“This was pretty spur of the moment for us,” he said. The recruiting event was announced last Friday, and the Sunrise chapter “thought it was ridiculous and irresponsible,” leading them to meet over the weekend to organize the protest, Slevin said.
Lizzy Duke-Moe ’26, Sunrise Movement Brown’s action team lead, described the protest as a way to strengthen activist culture on campus.
“Recently, it’s felt like everyone is an activist until they come to Brown,” she said. “So it was very important to me that we actually make things happen,” rather than just talking about it.
Duke-Moe noted that the protest marks the revival of Sunrise Movement Brown’s organizational efforts and that the group plans to expand its campus involvement this academic year.
“Sunrise kind of died out,” she said, referencing the fact that the group was last active in late 2020. “So this was kind of a test drive (so we could) see who’s interested.”
Currently, the chapter is also working on writing a petition calling upon the University to prioritize candidates dedicated to Brown’s environmental commitments in its search to fill its open provost position, Duke-Moe said.
The protest is just the beginning of the group’s activism for the semester, Slevin added. “We have a lot of stuff on the agenda and a lot to do,” he said. “We’re really excited to get started.”
Sofia Barnett is a University News editor overseeing the faculty and higher education beat. She is a sophomore from Texas studying history, politics and nonfiction writing.