7 April 2015 (HALIFAX) — On Tuesday afternoon, Dalhousie University students, alumni and community members raised a ‘Shellhousie’ flag in the Dalhousie Quad to shed light on the problematically close relationship between fossil fuel companies and Dalhousie’s decision-makers.
The event targeted Dal’s latest $600,000 contract with Shell Canada, $100,000 of which is dedicated to starting the Offshore Energy Fund to fund student training related to offshore oil and gas exploration and development.
Divest Dal members raised a flag bearing the Shell logo intertwined with the Dalhousie crest as an emblem of Dal’s intimacy with industries fuelling climate change. Divestment campaigners are adamant: “Dal’s administrators and board chose the wrong side in the fight against climate change, and Dr. Richard Florizone and Dal’s Board of Governors are more invested in ‘Shellhousie’ than in a sustainable future for all faculty, staff, and students at Dal,” said Bethany Hindmarsh, a current student and Divest Dal campaigner. “Dal’s administrative bodies have shown that they are so beholden to that polluting industry that they are unable to make decisions in the university’s best interest. They’ve chosen not to divest from fossil fuels, ignoring evidence of the benefits of divestment as well as calls from the Dalhousie Students’ Union and Dalhousie Faculty Association.” For divestment advocates, the ‘Shellhousie’ flag is a visual emblem of this pattern.
While Dalhousie’s communications team have called Shell’s funding a gift, it is not merely a gift, but a contract that contains many restrictions for those who receive the funding and that decidedly commits Dal to further oil exploration.
“This shows a marked disregard for the carbon budget,” says Dal Environmental Science student and divestment organizer Emma Halupka. “Given that known fossil fuel reserves already contain five times the amount of carbon we can burn while still avoiding runaway climate change, students, alumni, and Dal community members are committed to challenging Dalhousie’s decision to invest in the climate crisis rather than in climate progress.”
When Dal’s Board of Governors rejected divestment in November, they did so not because fossil fuel divestment would hurt the endowment’s returns—as their research showed no evidence that divestment would harm returns—but because Investment Committee chair George MacLellan stated that the institution should position itself to receive funds from the fossil fuel industry. “This further proof that Dal has chosen an unacceptable direction,” Halupka says. “Dal’s decision-makers more concerned about their allegiances to the fossil fuel industry than they are about their responsibilities to students.”
Hindmarsh agrees: “Dal’s president has shown that he’s willing to prioritize the interests of a rogue industry at the expense of a sustainable future for the community we love. If the Board of Governors thought we would go away after November, they were wrong.”
Visit www.divestdal.ca for more information about the Divest Dal campaign, and follow #Shellhousie and #WhoseSide on Twitter for up-to-date photos and during the action.
Details on the 2015 contract between Shell and Dalhousie can be found here.
The full 2011 contract between Shell and Dalhousie can be found here.
Fore more information, please contact:
Emma Halupka, 902-225-3030 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethany Hindmarsh, 902-209-3222 | email@example.com