Press release: make history, or be vilified by it

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PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release

FIRST CANADIAN UNIVERSITY TO VOTE ON DIVESTMENT

Members of Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors to call a vote on fossil fuel divestment; a landmark decision in Canada.

Halifax – Today hundreds of Dalhousie University students are gathering on campus as members of the university’s Board of Governors go to a landmark vote on fossil fuel divestment.

Years of work by the student group ‘Divest Dalhousie’, the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign, has led to this decision. Members of Divest Dalhousie have written a number of reports and have given several presentations to the Board of Governors Investment Committee about the financial benefits of divestment. This research was compiled with extensive economic education from Dalhousie and other universities.

In addition, the group has garnered the support of upwards of 2000 students and 120 individual faculty members, the Dalhousie Student Union, and the Dalhousie Faculty Association. The King’s Student Union and the Union of King’s Teaching Fellows from the neighboring University of King’s College have officially supported the campaign, and prominent community leaders such as David Suzuki, Elizabeth May and Maude Barlow have voiced their support as well.

“We’ve given the BoG absolutely everything they need to divest — student support, faculty support, and an incredible amount of research,” says Bethany Hindmarsh, a current student. “We expect nothing less than for our governing bodies to stand with the brightest minds of this institution and to do what is necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

This isn’t the first time divestment has come up at the university. Dalhousie University divested from South African companies in 1987 to combat racial apartheid. That was done on moral grounds and sent a signal to companies about the abhorrent injustice that was apartheid. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has stated that we must act to confront the injustices that climate change poses for people around the world: “We [can] use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters. It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.”

Universities across the country including University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and McGill University, are looking to Dal today as it makes this important decision. Divestment today it would pave the way for other universities and institutions to divest.

The BoG investment committee has written a report and a recommendation that will be presented today, and the BoG as a whole will vote to accept the motion. “We want the authors of that report, and every voting member, to know that any decision other than a decision to divest is a signal that they’re comfortable with complicity in one of the greatest injustices of our time,” says Hindmarsh.

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Contact: Bethany Hindmarsh (902) 209 3222 // Emi Belliveau (902) 440-9399

For more information, BoG-IC reports, and petition updates, see divestdal.ca

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