The presidential election is two weeks away. In every election cycle, the last month of the campaign is notorious for curveballs: what the pundits call the "October surprise." This October has been unusually full of them: Trump’s much sought- after tax returns, the Wikileaks revelations on the Clinton campaign and the famous Access Hollywood tape of Billy Bush and Donald Trump. But four years ago the October surprise came in a different form: in the last week and a half of the campaign, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City.

Hurricane Sandy brought the reality of the climate crisis close to home for me, literally. My high school was flooded with five feet of water, shutting down school for an entire week. The subways were flooded, friends’ homes were destroyed and whole neighborhoods were leveled. Most dramatically, the 14th street power station blew out, and I had the surreal experience of walking through a completely dark lower Manhattan. And though midtown residents got their power back, the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways and Queens are still being felt today.

Prior to Sandy I was all set to recycle away the climate crisis. But when Sandy hit, I saw what climate change could do to my home, and it opened my eyes to what had already been occurring around the world in communities vulnerable to rising seas and stronger storms. Today this reality has inspired me to take action in the climate justice movement—a movement that recognizes that those who are the most affected by climate change are those who have contributed the least to it and fights for them to have autonomy and ownership over their futures.

In a recent Orient article, Vice President of Investments Paula Volent attributed the poor performance of our endowment to falling fossil fuel prices and slow economic growth. And in an email to the Bowdoin community, President Rose wrote that this new reality will "require a shift from ‘business as usual.’" Today’s business as usual is an America with nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, where the majority of economic growth has gone to the wealthiest Americans and where falling fossil fuel prices foreshadow a looming carbon bubble. Today’s business as usual is knowingly leading us to the edge of a climate crisis.

At the center of the climate justice movement are values of community, people and the environment; a commitment to diversity and a belief in the power of student moral leadership. Bowdoin’s values—a commitment to place, to the common good and to moral leadership—anchor us as students and alumni and mirror the core values of the climate justice movement. Climate justice is the common good.

Business as usual is in direct opposition to climate justice and it is in direct opposition with the core values of the College. We have a choice to make between continuing to invest in an industry that threatens the future of our people and planet on the one hand, or fighting for communities already impacted by climate change and our own future on the other. The College has acknowledged that business as usual will not cut it anymore, but they are dragging their feet. It is time for us, as students, to step up and push the college to align its words and values with its actions.

When I came to Bowdoin I was caught in the mindset that, as a young person, my only impact could be in my household. Bowdoin Climate Action and the fossil fuel divestment movement helped me to realize my power as a student and voting citizen to take action and fight for institutional change. Personal changes alone will not keep fossil fuels in the ground; personal changes will not prevent low-income communities and communities of color from being exploited and destroyed by an extractive, profit orientated industry.

Institutional changes are needed to dismantle the economic and political support that the fossil fuel industry enjoys; institutional changes are needed to prevent climate disasters like Hurricane Sandy from hitting New York, New Orleans and Haiti. As an engaged and active student I can fight to enact that change here. As an elite academic institution, Bowdoin can and should use its moral and intellectual capital to enact this change.

The choice is clear. Climate change is happening now, and bold and just action is needed both in this political cycle and in our academic institutions to address this reality. It is time for Bowdoin to act upon its core values and reject the economic, political and social influence of the fossil fuel industry. We cannot afford to continue to invest in business as usual.

Emily Ruby is a member of the Class of 2019.