Students storm vice chancellor’s office
A climate change group took over the office of Auckland University’s Vice Chancellor on Monday, protesting fossil fuel investments.
Fourteen students from Fossil Free UoA sat outside Stuart McCutcheon’s office in the university’s clock tower building, demanding that he supported divestment from coal, oil and gas from the university’s investment portfolio.
Fossil Fuel UoA spokesperson Alex Johnston said they were sitting in for how ever long it took and were willing to be arrested.
‘‘While our vice chancellor carries on with business as usual the alarm bells of climate change ring louder and louder,’’ Johnston said.
‘‘We won’t leave until Stuart McCutcheon takes a stand and supports university divestment from fossil fuels.’’
The group asked McCutcheon to issue a public statement acknowledging divesting was well aligned with the United Nations position on climate change.
A spokesperson for the university said it had no jurisdiction over the University Foundation, which was responsible for its investments.
The spokesperson said it believed in freedom of speech and supported the students’ right to voice their views, as long as it did not pose a threat to anyone’s health or safety.
McCutcheon, who was overseas, did not issue a statement supporting the group.
Johnston said by refusing to publicly support divestment the Vice Chancellor signalled that he was fine with the university funding climate change, and was disregarding the calls of over 3000 students, staff and alumni, who had signed their petition.
This isn’t the first time McCutcheon has been called on to divest.
In April more than 100 students from the Auckland Uni- versity Medical Students Association rallied against the University of Auckland for investing in fossil fuels.
Fossil Free UoA has been campaigning for more than two years to stop the university investing in fossil fuels.
University of Otago and Vic- toria University of Wellington have already divested in fossil fuels and University of Canterbury has partially divested.
In April, Fossil Free UoA estimated $1 million of the $108m in the University of Auckland Foundation was invested in the fossil fuel industry.