Dores Divest protested the event as a result of the university’s continued investment in fossil fuels. Student activists handed out brochures created by sophomore and Dores Divest member Will Coburn titled, “CHANCELLOR, THIS IS WHY YOUR STUDENTS WON’T CELEBRATE YOU.” The brochures addressed various claims Diermeier has made about divestment and provided statistics demonstrating the positive economic outcomes of divestment, such as a 422.7% increase in total returns on renewable power over the last 10 years. Student activists also walked around Alumni Lawn with posters reading, “Divest Vandy! – Al Gore” and “Say Nein to Fossil Fuels.”

Coburn said the goals of the protest were to spread awareness about the divestment movement with Vanderbilt community members as well as garner Diermeier’s attention.

“By being present and passing out pamphlets, we hoped to connect, start conversations and show that we are thoughtful, intelligent and care deeply about divestment,” Coburn said. “By being at his investiture, we wanted to remind Diermeier that his stubborn defense of fossil fuels is a glaring and inescapable stain on his identity as chancellor.”

Coburn added that the protest was held in accordance with recent updates to Vanderbilt’s Freedom of Expression policy surrounding protests and activism on campus.

“We have always followed campus policies to engage in civil discourse in the right way and will continue to do so,” Coburn said.

The protesters also held signs of various photos of Diermeier interacting with Vanderbilt and Nashville community members. Sophomore and Dores Divest member Celia Waldman said the purpose of doing so was to compel Diermeier to agree to a meeting with Dores Divest.

“We quietly followed around Chancellor Diermeier with posters from about ten feet away. We offered to multiple administrators that we’d leave if he agreed to meet, and he simply did not,” Waldman said. “While we would prefer to not have to take these measures, by refusing to meet with us, he has made these actions necessary as our only means of getting face to face time with him.”

First-year Morrigan Dunlap-Loomis, who is not involved in Dores Divest, said the effects of the protest could be seen among the celebration attendees.

“I’m sensing some tension in some people that are here, mainly because of the protest we walked through arriving here,” Dunlap-Loomis said. “I feel like a lot of people are here for the free food, less for the actual celebration.”

Waldman added that Dores Divest received resounding support from administrators, alumni and event guests when handing out pamphlets. Coburn said he hopes the protest will bring Dores Divest and Diermeier closer to opening a dialogue.

“Even on his day of celebration, the spotlight is shared with his controversies,” Coburn said. “What we hope he realizes is that he can correct his image in an instant should he choose to work together with the faculty, students and alumni calling for divestment.”