A group of students from Divest UVic are calling on the university’s new president to take ‘bolder action’ and divest $400 million in investment funds from the fossil fuel industry.
The group, led by Emily Thiessen, a local artist and recent grad, painted a “welcome message” in front of the Michael Williams Administrative building on Wednesday morning.
The mural is dominated by blue and black, representing the choice the administration is faced with, said Thiessen, “between oil and water, between oil and sustaining life, clean air, clean water and the climate.” Within the blue and black circle, there are painted salmon and windmills, which symbolize “a better world we want to see.”
Thiessen wants to see a negative screen put in place to assert that fossil fuel companies don’t meet UVic’s standard for ethical investments and then have the money redirected, ideally into renewable technology.
Emily Lowan, organizer of the event, got involved with Divest UVic last year when there were several “very public” student protests. One was held in January when the board of governors voted to reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.
Lowan calls the policy greenwashing and says it’s incredibly ineffective. She added that the UVic Foundation controls a much larger endowment fund which is not subject to the same policy.
“I just want to emphasize that we cannot continue to waste time and resources on greenwashing policies. We need to come together and find the most effective response to the climate crisis,” said Lowan.
Lowan, along with several other members of Divest UVic, will be meeting with president Kevin Hall on Thursday to discuss the divestment campaign.
Hall, and his office, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.