University Council today rejected a hard-line anti-divestment proposed “council” response initially drafted by a small group of financial bureaucrats. This draft response had rejected even the investments in ESG funds proposed by the Divestment Working Group report - which were not even explicitly recommended to be fossil free - described in the draft as ‘virtue-signalling’.
Even the University Council, who have rejected overwhelming democratic calls for divestment for three years, could not agree with this hard anti-divestment line, and Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope was forced to propose an extraordinary meeting. This shows that occupation works, that the action of our incredible hunger strikers has been effective and that 3 years of direct action and democratic engagement has begun to be acknowledged by council.
This delay is an opportunity for council to take the lead and commit to full divestment. They must consult with students and staff before the planned extraordinary meeting. We will continue our occupation of Greenwich House until a commitment to full divestment is made, and we will launch a full statement this evening that outlines our plans for consultation before the next council meeting.
Today is a success for Zero Carbon’s escalation. Council now have the opportunity to decide whether they will capitulate to unelected financial bureaucrats, or whether they will listen to the clear democratic will of the university’s members. We will continue to put pressure on and engage with the University to ensure that student and staff voices are heard and that they commit to full divestment.’