Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Fossil Free Penn Demands All Elderly Professors Be Fired


Fossil Free Penn is perhaps a controversial organization. Many students support the group, whose goal is to encourage Penn to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest some of its money in clean energy, but plenty of students and alumni consider the group's aims to be unrealistic or financially unwise.

The group's latest protest, in particular, is drawing some attention. Fossil Free Penn made waves with their boldest demand yet: fire all the elderly professors ("fossils", so called) at Penn. The group demonstrated outside Huntsman Hall, and held signs with slogans like "OLD PEOPLE = OLD NEWS" and "FIRE ALL FOSSILS". 

We talked to Mitch Shotkin, a member of Fossil Free Penn and a junior in the College, to better understand their request. "We realized that we were being too specific, missing the bigger picture," he said. "It's not just fossil fuels that we dislike—it's all fossils. The elderly professors here are taking up space, speaking slowly, and taking advantage of their tenure to prevent younger, more qualified professors from getting teaching positions."

It's a hot take, if nothing else. The plan is sure to ignite a firestorm among professors, the elderly, and likely many others. Shotkin declined to comment on how he felt about his own grandparents, who are presumably also old. Fossil Free Penn isn't stopping here, though: the Penn Museum is next on its list.

"That museum is full of fossils," Shotkin declared. "Its days are numbered."