Get­ting loud for di­vest­ment

Rally for cli­mate jus­tice held on one-year an­niver­sary of Mcgill’s re­fusal to di­vest

The McGill Daily - - News - Yas­min Bi­tar News Writer

Last Tues­day, March 7, the Com­mit­tee to Ad­vise on Mat­ters of So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity (CAMSR) met for the first time since their de­ci­sion, in March 2016, to not di­vest Mcgill’s hold­ings from the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try. Roughly 50 stu­dents gath­ered to stand in sol­i­dar­ity with Di­vest Mcgill by stag­ing a protest out­side the James Ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing to de­mand di­vest­ment. The protest was called “GET LOUD for Di­vest­ment,” high­light­ing the group’s de­sire to be heard and to re­mind the ad­min­is­tra­tion of on­go­ing stu­dent ac­tivism sur­round­ing fos­sil fuel di­vest­ment.

In Fe­bru­ary 2016, af­ter years of cam­paign­ing and with wide­spread com­mu­nity sup­port, Di­vest Mcgill pre­sented a pe­ti­tion and brief to CAMSR, ask­ing the Uni­ver­sity to di­vest from its hold­ings in the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try. This mo­tion was re­jected by the Board of Gov­er­nors (BOG) be­cause of a claim made by CAMSR that fos­sil fu­els do not cause “grave so­cial in­jury.”

“What we’re try­ing to achieve with this demon­stra­tion is to show CAMSR and the ad­min­is­tra­tion that the fos­sil fuel di­vest­ment ques­tion is not over,” An­drew Stein, a U4 en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence stu­dent and one of the mem­bers of Di­vest Mcgill, told The Daily. “We take ob­jec­tion, not only with the re­sults of CAMSR’S find­ings, but also how they came to that re­sult: they didn’t abide by their own terms of ref­er­ence and they didn’t look at so­cial in­jury ob­jec­tively – they looked at net so­cial in­jury, which is im­pos­si­ble to de­fine. We want to also show the Mcgill com­mu­nity at large that we’re still fight­ing for this, we still be­lieve that Mcgill can do the right thing, and that we can be a leader in the fight for cli­mate jus­tice.”

Pro­test­ers banged drums and plas­tic buck­ets, held ban­ners, and chanted: “we won’t rest till you di­vest” and “we know you can hear us,” sur­round­ing the doors of the James ad­min build­ing. Com­mu­nity square, the area in front of the James build­ing, has in pre­vi­ous years been the site of many Di­vest Mcgill protests. This in­cluded Fos­sil Free Week, when mem­bers of Di­vest Mcgill set up tents and camped in the square dur­ing the week of Septem­ber 21, 2015. Mcgill Prin­ci­pal Suzanne Fortier, when later asked about the week-long camp- out, said told ac­tivists she “didn’t see any­thing go­ing on.”

Ac­cord­ing to Jed Lenet­sky, a U2 en­vi­ron­ment stu­dent and mem­ber of Di­vest Mcgill, “[di­vest­ment gives] stu­dents power in uni­ver­si­ties to change in­sti­tu­tions in which they are a part of. It’s much harder for stu­dents to in­flu­ence in­ter­na­tional cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions or even na­tional pol­icy, but stu­dents can make a dif­fer­ence at their own uni­ver­sity .

Asked about Di­vest’s tac­tics and cur­rent re­la­tion­ship with the ad­min­is­tra­tion, Lenet­sky spoke specif­i­cally of Di­vest Mcgill’s ef­forts to­wards “de­moc­ra­tiz­ing Mcgill’s in­sti­tu­tions: such as the BOG and CAMSR. “[Di­vest is] in touch with the ad­min­is­tra­tion and on pretty good terms – [it’s] def­i­nitely a work­ing re­la­tion­ship and we like to keep it that way, but at the end of the day we’re not afraid of putting pres­sure on the Mcgill ad­min­is­tra­tion where it makes sense and let­ting them know [how] they are failing.”

“We must lever­age our priv­i­lege of power as stu­dents at a global uni­ver­sity to really change the dis­course around cli­mate change,” con­tin­ued Lenet­sky. Pro­test­ers also pointed out the dis­pro­por­tion­ate ef­fect of fos­sil fu­els ex­trac­tion on Canada’s In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

Speak­ing to The Daily, Ni­cola Protetch, a U3 An­thro­pol­ogy stu­dent, added that “it’s really im­por­tant for us to keep show­ing up, keep turn­ing up in masses, and show­ing them that this wasn’t just a stunt; that di­vest is se­ri­ous and we’re gonna hold our uni­ver­sity ac­count­able and con­tinue to hold our uni­ver­sity ac­count­able for their in­vest­ments.” Mcgill cur­rently in­vests ap­prox­i­mately $70 mil­lion of its en­dow­ment fund in the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try.

“We want to show the Mcgill com­mu­nity at large that we’re still fight­ing for this.” –An­drew Stein U4 En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence stu­dent

Yas­min Bi­tar | Pho­tog­ra­pher

Di­vest Mcgill ac­tivists.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.