Stu­dents storm vice chan­cel­lor’s of­fice

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - JAMES PASLEY

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.

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