Just before the McGill Board of Governors (BoG) meeting on February 11, around thirty demonstrators, organized by the campus climate justice group Divest McGill, rallied outside the James Administration building.
The demonstrators stood in front of the main entrance of the James Administration building, holding signs that said “Divest McGill” and chanting, “Get on the podium, divest from petroleum.”
In an interview with The Daily, Benji Astrachan, U2 World Religions and International Development Studies student and a member of Divest McGill, said, “We just wanted to make sure that our presence was loud and clear, and that they knew that we’re there and we’ll continue to be there.”
“Climate, today, is at the intersection of several struggles which link racialized people and people who are socioeconomically disfavoured.”
Since 2012, Divest McGill has submitted several petitions to the BoG’s Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), urging the University to divest from Canadian tar sands and the fossil fuel industry.
Three years of consistent campus advocacy have failed to influence McGill’s investment portfolio. Divest McGill alleges that the University has incurred an estimated $43 million in losses stemming from its current investment holdings during the time it has spent considering Divest McGill’s petitions.
At a CAMSR meeting on October 22, CAMSR Chair Stuart “Kip” Cobbett had said that “[CAMSR would] have a decision by early next year. Certainly by the March 30 deadline.” However, Cobbett had also added, “This is not a drop-dead deadline, because stuff happens.”
In an interview with The Daily, Gregoire Beaune, U3 Political Science and Philosophy student and a participant at the rally, said, “For me, [climate justice] goes beyond just the climate. […] Climate, today, is at the intersection of several struggles which link racialized people and people who are socioeconomically disfavoured.”
“Divesting from fossil fuels […] is more than just asking for a green campus. It’s asking for an ethical campus – one that is aware of the repercussions of its investments and also aware of the world around it,” Beaune said.
This article was updated on February 13, 2016.