Jason Hemmerting (left to right), Emma Leslie, William Hancock, Shay lynn Sampson, Elora Adamson and Victoria Eaton (bottom) were among the protestors at the main entrance of the Michael Williams Building. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Student protestors blockade UVic administrative building, fight for fossil fuel divestment

UVic is ‘falling behind’ as other institutions have begun to divest, say students

Students activists at the University of Victoria blocked all entrances to the Michael Williams Building on Tuesday to protest the institution’s fossil fuel investments.

Divest UVic – a group campaigning for UVic to divest from fossil fuels – set up a picket line outside the administrative building at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 3 in response to the university Board of Governors’ decision to delay a vote on divesting from fossil fuel industries. The students expected board members to take a vote during a November meeting.

The students didn’t allow anyone to cross the picket line once they’d set up, but some staff members had arrived before the protesters so there were staff inside working.

READ ALSO: UVic students plan rally to demand accountability from university

Elora Adamson, an organizer with Divest UVic, feels the university’s branding as a sustainable school is hypocritical when it has $40 million invested in fossil fuels.

Divest UVic has been active since 2013 and the group has met with representatives from the university several times over the years. She feels the university is “stalling.”

“It’s incredibly frustrating to see [UVic] continue to ignore our calls to action,” Adamson said.

Aside from protesting, the students were also raising money for Unist’ot’en in honour of Giving Tuesday. More than $1,200 had been raised in the days leading up to the protest. The goal was to collect $1,500 by the end of the day through a bake sale set up on the picket line.

Organizer Juliet Watts said staff were understanding and that many donated to the fundraiser after being turned away.

A communal lunch was served at noon to celebrate the Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia’s recent partial divestment, Watts explained.

READ ALSO: UVic announces list of top 50 players in fossil fuel industry

UVic respects students’ right to protest and make their views known, said Gayle Gorrill, UVic vice-president of finance and operations. However, approximately 135 university employees who work in payroll, accounting, pension and research services were unable to go to work on Tuesday – many were told to work from home or from somewhere else on campus.

Gorrill explained that UVic knows that climate change is a “critical issue” and that its short-term “investments can make an impact,” but that it’s unclear if a decision regarding divestment can be made at the January meeting. The board members will be presented with policy options in January, but may require more information before taking a vote.

Gorrill pointed out that divestment is a long process and that there are many factors for the university to consider but that responsible investment is the goal. Students can expect the board to vote in early 2020, she said.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VicPD seeking help in recovering stolen scooter of B.C. Special Olympics athlete

The scooter was stolen from outside Hillside Mall on Sept.21

Oak Bay sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Glenn Wakefield’s rescue involved five airplanes and took more than 48 hours

First fall storm expected to hit Greater Victoria tonight

Heavy rainfall, winds expected over the next several days

UPDATED: Crews contain fire to attic of Central Saanich home

Firefighters are responding to a structure fire in Central Saanich

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo RCMP shut down illegal racing and stunt driving site

Police “swoop in” to seize vehicles and issue violation tickets

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Most Read