Does SRUC invest ethically? [Fossil fuel divestment]
Up and down the country students are running campaigns to pressure their institutions into divesting and ensuring their college/university is investing it’s money ethically i.e. not in fossisl fuels, arms or tobacco. In Scotland, Glasgow is a good example where the uni became the first in Europe to divest from fossil fuels.
If we look to Edinburgh Uni (closely linked to SRUC), it has not handled divestment quite so well. An amazing group of students from People & Planet have been campaigning to get the university to completely divest from arms and fossil fuels, progress has been made but the uni is still hesitant to fully divest. A number of SRUC students have also been in involved in the campaign – even participating in some of the occupations!
When a uni invests (which in some cases could be our money) in fossil fuels, arms & tobacco they are effectively funding climate change, war and cancer. This is clearly not a good thing for an academic institution to be doing and hence divestment campaigns exist. Colleges and universities are for learning and innovation and should not be involved in unethical investments.
But before you think divestment is just eco-warriors & lefty students, people from business are talking about it too. The Bank of England Govenor recently said that fossil fuel investments were high risk and that alternatives such as renewable energy were a far better option. So fossil fuel investments are funding climate change, dodgy ethically and their not even financially responsible!
Now we come to SRUC, I have been requesting further information from senior management for a number on months now; information has been frustratingly trickling through but now we finally have something to work with! The good news is they already have an ethical investment policy which means they have no investments in arms or tobacco. But I’m led to believe that up to 11% of their investments are in fossil fuels, which needs to change – these are either direct investments or indirect through regional pension schemes.
This means it’s time for SRUCSA to begin a divestment campaign! I’ve been to all campuses and I know there are SRUC students at all locations who do not want their institution to be funding climate change. This is really good because if we are to make this campaign a success and get the institution to clean up it’s investments, we’ll need students from all locations working together.
So where do we begin? Well the Finance & General Purposes sub-committee of the board recently met and reviewed the ‘NUS Scotland Ethical Investment’ document and they are definitely open to the idea when they review the investments in November. This is certainly a positive start but it’s now up to us – the students – to put pressure on the institution to fully commit to divesting!
Myself & my successor (James) are likely to lead on this campaign from the SRUCSA Exec, we’re both environmental graduates keen to see SRUC divest! It’s important to have a full-time sabb working on this as they can directly speak to management/the board easier than the average student. That being said we ideally need a broad range of students from all campuses involved with the campaign co-ordinated through the cross-campus SRUCSA Environment, Sustainability & Ethics network.
We are probably going to need co-ordinators on each campus with students willing to plan and organise the campaign. Everything from researching, organising, social media (we’ll need a nifty hashtag), putting together posters/documents/releases to maybe even organising direct action (if it’s required), but whatever you can offer to help will be welcome. We’ll also be contacting People & Planet / Fossil Free and other students associations for help and advice with the process.
So if you are interested in getting involved in the campaign, please get in touch! We’ll organise a meeting to get things planned before the summer. You can contact me via email at student email@example.com and I’m also on Facebook as Srucsa Pres.
Alex Robb, SRUCSA President & SRUC Aberdeen environmental graduate
Join the SRUCSA Environment, Sustainability & Ethics Network here.
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