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Divest Concordia stopped from mobilizing

by Savanna Craig March 14, 2017
Divest Concordia stopped from mobilizing

Security blocked entry of elevators where BOG meeting was held

Divest Concordia protested outside the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting on March 8 as a means to push the BOG to put Divest Concordia on their agenda. However, Divest members were met with Concordia security, who blocked access to the entrance of the fourth floor of the GM building.

“The president explained that the restricted access measures were in response to advice following last week’s events,” Concordia University Spokesperson Chris Mota told The Concordian, referencing the bomb threat at Concordia on March 1, which targeted the Muslim community. “High profile meetings can attract copycat attention and we wanted to ensure the meeting could be held without incident,” said Mota.

Divest Concordia decided to protest due to a lack of effort made by the BOG to give Divest time during the board’s meeting on March 8, said Kya Ringland, a member of Divest Concordia and an organizer of the mobilization.

Emails were sent to Concordia president Alan Shepard and the president of the BOG, among others. Divest Concordia sent them on Feb. 26, however, the administration did not respond until the day before the BOG meeting. The response, from assistant secretary-general Danielle Tessier, stated that Divest Concordia’s request to have their concerns added to the meeting’s agenda was being reviewed by the BOG.

Divest members intended to stand outside the BOG meeting to deliver informational postcards signed by more than 300 students, detailing concerns over the delay of Concordia’s divestment from the gas and fossil fuel industries, said Ringland. More importantly, Ringland added, the postcards urged the university to move forward with the sustainability policy, which is meant to facilitate sustainable initiatives at Concordia.

One of the goals of the sustainability policy is to divest from gas and fossil fuels and instead to invest in sustainable initiatives. The policy will also look into opportunities to fund socially and environmentally responsible projects, according to Concordia News.

The Joint Sustainable Investment Advisory Committee (JSIAC), composed of members of Concordia student organizations, including Divest Concordia, and the BOG, will review these initiatives.

Ringland said board members of the JSIAC asked other members to research sustainable investment opportunities Concordia could fund with the money removed from the fossil fuel and gas industries.

“Our Divest members [have been asked] to do research in alternative investments, which is great. We’re happy to partner with people to do that,” Ringland said. “Our members have done that and brought the research to the JSIAC, and it has just kind of been disregarded and not talked about anymore.”

Ringland said the same has happened for Sustainable Concordia. “They have looked at alternative investments, and no follow-up has been made on any of them,” she said. “Many other students and faculty members have put forth research and solutions––including the CSU.”

However, Ringland said she believes efforts should be made outside of student and faculty members. “We feel all members of JSIAC should be doing research into alternatives [and] bringing alternative solutions forward,” said Ringland. “Board members and admin should be a part of this process.”

Tessier said the JSIAC will be meeting shortly to make recommendations to the Concordia University Foundation and other stakeholders with regards to Concordia’s commitment to sustainable investing.

Leonard handing postcards to BOG representative. Photo by Savanna Craig

Divest member Alex Leonard said he hopes members of the BOG will see the group’s postcards. He said it is important to have the BOG “open to hearing what the student body is saying, as opposed to creating barriers where these public meetings are now high-security.”

“I think that [the BOG is] taking steps in the right direction, and I want to believe that they have the good of Concordia’s community in mind,” Ringland said. “I think that that’s going to be happening more—they’re actually holding consultations in the next two months with Concordia students, so those will be good.”

Ringland said divestment is an issue that’s becoming more severe due to climate change. “I think most of the Concordia community knows, and so we just want to make sure that [the BOG] realize how urgent it is and use that urgency to dictate their daily decisions,” Ringland said.

Before the Divest Concordia members left, a representative from the BOG came down to ask Divest members what they wanted to say to the governors. Divest Concordia members chose to let the postcards speak for them—Leonard handed the postcards to the representative.
Divest Concordia will hold their next meeting on March 17 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m in the CSU art nook, adjacent to People’s Potato on the 7th floor of the Hall building.

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