#OURFUTUREOURCHOICE – A Response to CAMSR’s Failure
Students sit-in and camp out
Faculty host teach-ins
Alumni return their diplomas in shame
A donor withdraws millions from the university
CAMSR fails to fulfill mandate
On March 24th, 2016, CAMSR (the McGill Board’s Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility) announced they would not recommend divestment from the fossil fuel industry. After three years of campaigning for divestment, this decision greatly saddened Divest McGill and the community at large, which has shown overwhelming support for divestment. We were shocked and disappointed by CAMSR’s report, a report that illogically concluded that the fossil fuel industry does not cause grave social injury. CAMSR failed to follow its mandate; instead of properly considering social injury and responsibility, the committee focused on whether divestment was the best way for McGill to address climate change — a question which is far outside of its scope. Furthermore, it completely failed to address the direct impact of fossil fuel projects on indigenous peoples and other directly affected communities, which was a large focus of Divest McGill’s submission. Their response to our meticulous and comprehensive 150+ page submission was both shameful and inadequate.
Students sit-in for climate justice
CAMSR’s failure to fulfill its mandate or act morally gave Divest McGill no choice but to take direct action. From March 29th-April 1st, nine members of Divest McGill sat-in at Principal Suzanne Fortier’s Office, with dozens more camping outside in the cold and rain in solidarity. We had three propositions, two of which were accepted to some degree. The first thing we asked for was a public consultation on divestment – as the process from the beginning has been closed off and inaccessible to the public, despite repeated requests for accountability and transparency. They agreed to host a public consultation in the fall. However it will be regarding CAMSR’s recommendations and not about divestment itself. The second thing we asked for was for the release of the secret “expert” testimonies that CAMSR consulted. Five out of six of these testimonies were released. The final request was for Principal Fortier to make a statement that the fossil fuel industry causes grave social harm. She categorically refused to acknowledge this well-documented reality.
McGill loses 2 MILLION dollar donation
The week involved numerous events and actions – from daily rallies, to professor teach-ins, to a concert, to vigils – but perhaps most powerful was the final event. On Friday April 1st, 2016, 20 McGill Alumni of all ages handed back their diplomas outside the James Administration building, demonstrating their outrage at McGill’s decision and the shame they felt in the administration. Notable alumni like Karel Mayrand and Camil Bouchard were present. Many moving speeches were made, expressing the loss of McGill pride alumni felt. Most notably, it was announced that a $2 million donation to McGill had been withdrawn due to the Board’s failure to vote for divestment.
Divest McGill and supporters here to stay
Clearly, the administration’s failure to divest has evoked outrage across the McGill community. There were many suggestions that the returning of diplomas become an annual event, until McGill decides to be on the right side of history and divest. From students, to professors, to staff, to community members, to faculties as a whole, the support for Divest McGill has been resounding. It is alarming to see how out of touch CAMSR and the Board of Governors are from the McGill community. It is clearer than ever that the climate movement is here to stay at McGill; Divest McGill is not going anywhere, and we invite you to join us.
- The Guardian
- La Presse:
- This Morning (radio show in Seoul, South Korea)
- David Suzuki Foundation
- Montreal Gazette
- The Link
- Real News Network
- The McGill Daily
- The McGill Tribune
- The Bull and Bear
- The Tab
- McGill Faculty and Librarians for Divestment
- Divest McGill