Students Occupy University Clocktower
Monday, 29 May 2017
Students Occupy University Clocktower over fossil fuel investments
At 8am this morning 13 University of Auckland students occupied the Vice-Chancellor’s wing of the University’s Clocktower building, demanding that Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon actively support divestment from oil, coal and gas companies. The occupying students (hailing from a range of university faculties, including the schools of medicine, law, engineering and environment) intend to stay indefinitely until their demands are met.
“We’re occupying this space to demand leadership from the university on climate for all our futures. Climate change is an emergency for humanity, and we won’t leave until Stuart McCutcheon takes a stand and supports university divestment from fossil fuels”, said Alex Johnston, Fossil Free University of Auckland spokesperson.
For over two years, a campaign led by Fossil Free University of Auckland has been calling for the University to cease investing in oil, coal and gas extraction companies to take a stand against one of the main culprits in driving climate change, the fossil fuel industry.
To date, the Vice Chancellor has road-blocked progress on divestment by refusing to support the call for the University Foundations to stop financing fossil fuel companies.
“The university has a duty to put its money where its mouth is by publicly condemning the polluting coal, oil and gas companies who put profit before the health of people and the planet,” said Johnston.
“The time for action is now. As the leader of the University, McCutcheon has to choose which side he’s on: our future, or the fossil fuel industry’s.”
The campaign is endorsed by the Auckland University Students’ Association, and is part of a global movement that has led to institutions representing over $5 trillion in assets divesting from fossil fuels.
Divested institutions include the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington, Auckland Council, and many overseas institutions, including the Rockefeller Foundation.
Said Johnston: “By refusing to publicly support divestment, the Vice Chancellor is signalling that he is fine with the University funding climate change, and is disregarding the calls of over 3000 students, staff and alumni, who have signed our petition, and the support of AUSA and 22 other students associations and clubs.”
“We’re demanding that Stuart McCutcheon stand on the right side of history and support divestment for all our futures.”