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Inside the Bubble: News from the McGill Community

“No Fracking, No Fossil Fuels!” Divest McGill Protests CAMSR Meeting

On Monday October 22, Divest McGill staged a protest in front of the James administration building from 1 to 2 PM (see live and short video on our Facebook page). The protest happened while the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) held a meeting inside. CAMSR is an ethics board that reports to the Board of Governors, the highest authority at McGill. Principal Suzanne Fortier sits on the board.

Divest McGill is pressuring CAMSR to reconsider its statement that the fossil fuels industry’s activities do not cause “grave social injury,” following a report from the UN-backed Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). CAMSR defines grave social injury as “the grave injurious impact which the activities of a legal person is found to have on consumers, employees, or other persons, or on the natural environment [that] violate, or frustrate the enforcement of rules of
domestic or international law intended to protect individuals against deprivation of health, safety, or basic freedoms, or to protect the natural environment.” The IPCC recently concluded that a 1.5°C rise in global temperature could result in extreme increases in dryness, water scarcity, and mass extinction of coral reefs. The report also predicted that this threshold will be crossed sometime between 2030 and 2052. In spring 2013 and again in March 2016, the Board of Governors voted against divestment from fossil fuels. These votes followed reports from CAMSR claiming that there was no compelling evidence that the fossil fuels industry’s activities cause “grave social injury.”

In a message to The Daily, a representative of Divest McGill stated “we keep rallying [and/or] protesting outside of CAMSR’s meetings because they are the ones that can recommend divestment to the Board. While we know that they can hear us, we want them to listen and recognize that they are the only [organization] critical of divestment.”

Divestment from fossil fuel has the longstanding support of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), the PostGraduate Students’ Society (PGSS), the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT), the faculties of Arts and Law, and the McGill School of Environment. On September 13 2018, Divest McGill received support from the Senate, who motioned the Principal through the Board of Governors “to divest the endowment from all companies whose primary business is the extraction, distribution, and/or sale of fossil fuels; and from all mutual funds that invest in such companies.”

School of Social Work Joins the Fight Against Unpaid Internships

The School of Social Work’s Fall General Assembly (GA) for the 2018-2019 academic year took place on October 24. The GA attendance met quorum, allowing for the proposed motions to be passed and later implemented. The agenda of the GA included many motions, starting with the election of Nour Daoud as the First Year Representative for the 2018- 2019 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) entering class. A motion to divide the role of VP External Affairs Coordinator into two positions passed, creating the new SSMU Representative position, consequently awarded to the current VP External Affairs Coordinator, Zach Kleiner. The goal of this split is to allow for a more effective fulfillment of responsibilities. Further, this division ensures fully bilingual representation for communications with other universities in the province. Mariana Sosa was elected as the new VP External Affairs Coordinator.

The Social Work Student’s Society (SWSA) then spoke of last years’ mobilization against unpaid internships, leading to a wider discussion on the matter. A motion requesting that Social Work students strike again this semester was put forward. The motion stated that “unpaid field placements are an unjust barrier to access for both potential and current students in the School of Social Work and whose effects are compounded for those living multiple, intersecting marginalizations.” Attendees then voted to strike against unpaid internships for the fall 2018 semester, calling for student participation in a week-long mobilization this November. This move by the School of Social Work aligns them with the UQAM, UdeM and UQTR’s students’ associations, which are already in support of the strike. The latter will take place November 19-23, at various universities across the province.