OUR WORK OVER TIME
Strong start of school year with Senate’s endorsement following in CAMSR starting a third assessment of the issue
Maintaining the pressure and building internal support
CAMSR’s shameful response, sit-ins, and the diploma returning ceremony
Back to CAMSR with an even stronger submission and more community support
Divest McGill submits its second petition to CAMSR, targeting the top 200 Fossil Fuel companies, as measured by carbon reserves. The first submission was dismissed on the basis of “insufficient proof of social injury”; for that reason, Divest focused this time on a 150 page research document highlighting the grave social harm caused by the fossil fuel industry based on the harm it causes to the local and global natural environment, as well as the harm it creates for individuals and populations as a result of human rights abuses and environmental degradation. This time, the petition was backed up by 1300 signatures.
An open letter is published in anglophone and francophone newspapers by McGill professors Shaun Lovejoy, Darin Barney and Christopher Barrington-Leigh supporting Divest McGill’s demands and calling “on McGill to be a true leader of sustainability and pioneer the necessary transition away from fossil-fuel dependence”.
Divest McGill is awarded the Lesson Learn recognition at the Catalyst Award ceremony, organised by McGill Office of Sustainability. In presenting the award, professor Darin Barney explained: “They’ve mobilized and galvanized staff, students and faculty. They want us to put our money where our mouth is.”
Faculty of Arts endorses Divest McGill.
Lobbying yields structural changes: small but critical victories
The McGill Board of Governors adopts revised terms of reference for CAMSR, which broaden the definition of social injury to include damage to the environment, a step in the right direction obtained thanks to significant lobbying by Divest members.
This deadline is finally agreed upon for McGill to respond to Divest’s access to information request regarding the nature of the investments of the endowment fund.
Throughout the year,
A letter of support for Divest’s demands gains support fromover 100 faculty members. It argued that “continued investment in the companies that actively work against this transition and profit from continued fossil fuel dependence is not morally tenable for a public institution”, and that the fossil fuel industry “has consistently blocked or weakened climate mitigation policies, and worked to obfuscate both climate science and media portrayal of climate science” and that “remaining invested in fossil fuel companies undermines the university’s mission of “service to society” and its commitment to manage its portfolio in a socially, environmentally, and economically responsible manner”.
Getting organized and spreading the word
The Economics Students’ Association teamed up with Divest McGill to host the annual “Battle of the Profs” under the theme of divestment from fossil fuel divestment.
Divest McGill made a presentation to the Committee to put forward its arguments.
CAMSR released its decision denying Divest McGill’s request to divest from fossil fuel companies and those involved in the Plan Nord in an open report for the Board of Governors.
Another protest held… on bikes this time!
Origins of Divest McGill
Divest McGill was founded in the Fall of 2012 as a working research project of the SSMU VP External.The main organizers were Robin Reid-Fraser, Christopher Bangs, and David Summerhays. The group was initially called “Decorporatize McGill”, but changed to ‘Divest McGill’ to focus on fossil fuel divestment.
Rising concerns over corporate influence in the university
In February 2011 two existence referendums for CKUT and QPIRG weren’t recognized by the administration. Students, calling themselves the #6party, occupied the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Medelson’s office demanding that student voices be heard. The students were removed with tear gas and riot cops. The combination of this, and the closure of the Student-Run Architecture Cafe, led to conversations being started about increasing corporate influence in the university.
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Divest McGill submits its first petition to CAMSR demanding “that the Investment Committee dispose, in an orderly and responsible fashion in no longer than three years, of the University's holdings in corporations which produce, refine, transport, or sell fossil fuels, as determined by the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility”. The petition, which was signed by 1200 members of the McGill community, also targeted investments in the Quebec Plan Nord.
CAMSR met to review these submissions on March 12th.
SSMU Council passed a motion to take action on divestment!
“Break-up from fossil fuel” rally held outside of the Shatner building to raise awareness on the campaign and its demands.