BRUNSWICK — About 20 Bowdoin College students launched a sit-in Wednesday morning outside President Barry Mills’ office, refusing to leave until the administration commits to working with them to divest Bowdoin’s endowment completely from fossil fuels.

Members of Bowdoin Climate Action sat with laptops and backpacks on chairs and along the floor of the hall outside Mills’ office just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, quietly reading or writing. Mills’ door remained closed and students said they did not know if he was present.

Student Julianna Lewis sent an email to Mills, Dean of Students Tim Foster and Mills’ executive assistant, Rebecca Smith, just after 9 a.m. Wednesday, alerting them to the protesters’ presence and urging college officials to issue a formal public statement that they will pursue divestment in collaboration with the Bowdoin community.

In an email reply to Lewis, Mills wrote, “Dear Julianna, Thank you for your message. Regards, Barry.”

“We want them to collaborate with us,” said Bowdoin senior Matthew Miles Goodrich, 21, of Brookfield, Connecticut. “We proposed divestment to the the president of the board of trustees in October and we’ve been ignored by them for about 150 days.”

Goodrich said students met with trustees more recently and “gave them three weeks” to appoint a liaison to work with them on a plan to remove investments in companies with ties to the fossil fuel industry. On the last day of the deadline, according to Goodrich, Mills appointed himself as that liaison — which Goodrich said “is absurd because he’s leaving in July.”

Mills will retire from Bowdoin this summer. Clayton Rose has been appointed the college’s next president.

“We’re not going to leave until we make our point,” Goodrich said, clarifying that “that depends on when the administration engages — and we’ll make sure they do. We’re really prepared for everything.”

“This is the college for the common good,” Goodrich said. “Fossil fuel is a threat not only to the students in this room but to … millions of people across the globe [and] more often than not, people from marginal countries.”

College spokesman Doug Cook said the college would issue a statement later Wednesday morning.

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