Divest MTA moving forward on campaign to shun Big Oil

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 5.21.04 PMDivest MTA, the student-led group that is trying to persuade Mount Allison University to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies is making slow, but significant progress.

At its meeting last week, the Board of Regents, the university’s highest governing body, agreed to establish a subcommittee to look at what are known as socially responsible investment policies.

Student Regent Willa McCaffrey-Noviss said students and faculty representatives will be included on that committee.

“This is a huge step,” she said.

She added that the Board has agreed to student representation on its powerful Nominating and Governance Committee.

Students’ Union President, Dylan Wooley-Berry who also serves as a regent, said that, in addition, the Board agreed to distribute a report written and compiled by Divest MTA to all of its members.

The report, which was presented to the Students’ Union council last week, calls on Mount Allison to establish a committee to create a socially responsible investment policy and to advise the Board of Regents on all issues related to it.

The 15-page report presents case studies from five Canadian and American universities (University of Toronto, McGill, University of Guelph, Yale and Harvard) that have established such committees.

It notes that the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility at McGill has a mandate to include the concept of “social injury” in its recommendations on investing. The committee defines the term as “the grave injurious impact which the activities of a company is found to have on consumers, employees, or other persons, or on the natural environment.”

The Mt. A Students’ Union is expected to decide at its meeting on February 15, whether it will support the creation and adoption of a university policy on socially responsible investment.

Meanwhile, during her speech at Mount Allison last month, author and climate-change activist Naomi Klein urged the university to pull its investments from fossil fuel companies. She said the University of Toronto is getting closer to divestment.

“The race is on for who the first Canadian university is going to be,” she added. “Mount Allison, do not let U of T beat you to this.”

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