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Dalhousie Senate hears the initial results of Divestment Report

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Note: This article was originally written for the Dalhousie Gazette, and as such focuses on specifically Dalhousie University related content. This said, as an identification of intersectionality (and because the Dalhousie Gazette website is unfortunately down at this moment), it seems reasonable to publish it here on the Halifax Media Co-op website as well.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Monday, December 14th, 2015 - At the Dalhousie Senate, the Preliminary Report of the ad hoc Committee of Senate on Fossil Fuel Divestment was discussed for the first time publicly. This committee, initially arranged by the Senate in December of last year, was created to examine the impact of Fossil Fuel Divestment in relation to the academic programs of Dalhousie university.

 

Following a lengthy period throughout the late summer and fall where reports from academic units throughout the university were asked to turn in responses regarding the divestment issue. While earlier criticisms and support for Divestment had been heard by Senate informally, around the period in October and November of 2014 when the issue of divestment was being discussed by the Dalhousie University Board of Governors , this marks the first formal discussion to be seen through the Senate in specifically an academic light, one informed by a variety of parties throughout the university.

 

This preliminary report arranges the many varying standpoints of 22 different units (like that of Earth Sciences, International Development Studies, Physics and Atmospheric Sciences, and others) into specific analysis on a variety of considerations - namedly Moral and Ethical, Educational and Enrolment, Financial and Research, and Reputational. Each of these received an extended analysis of the viewpoints both for and against the divestment of the university.

 

At Senate meeting itself of December 14th, when the item came up on the agenda the discussion began with a short presentation as to the report by the ad hoc committee's co-chair, Dr. Keith Taylor of the department of Mathematics and Statistics.

 

Questions and comments on the report after the presentation were relatively short, mostly focusing on how impressed the various Senators were in the committee for its balanced approached in how it considers the issues presented. This is a far cry from the experiences of last fall, when the issues of divestment were discussed informally but viciously as the item came to a formal vote at the Dalhousie Board of Governors.

 

At this present time, the report remained relatively balanced in its viewpoints between the two positions - within it consistently however, was the point being driven that the university needs to adopt a commonly agreed upon set of standards for ethical investment - and that there needs to be a decision made soon and decisively regarding where and how divestment should occur.

 

The final report, and any decisions which the Senate will make will depend on both these viewpoints and comments and feedback received from both Senators and members of the Dalhousie public over the next few weeks. Both have been asked to submit feedback and responses to the report over the holiday break and at a public forum scheduled for January 13th. The Senate itself will likely discuss the report and such feedback at the next meeting of Senate, on January 11th.

 

As of the writing of this article, this preliminary report has not been made public, but will apparently be released later tomorrow. This article will be updated with the link to the report and the request for further feedback when it is posted.

 

Edit as of 15:10, December 15th:

The preliminary report of the ad hoc Committee has been published online at the University Secretariat’s website for the Dalhousie Senate. It is available here: http://www.dal.ca/dept/university_secretariat/university_senate.html

A formal posting of the specifics of the upcoming town hall regarding divestment as a decision of senate or how to send responses to the ad hoc committee as a member of the Dalhousie community has not yet been shared.

Edit as of 11:04, December 16th:

A few more details, provided by Dr. Thomas Duck (@tomjduck), Senator, professor of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Dalhousie, and one of the members of the ad hoc Committee on Fossil Fuel Divestment that prepared the report, via twitter.

The townhall discussing divestment and the issues it poses is currently set for the 7th, presumably within the Dalhousie Student Union Building's McInnis Room.

As the committee will need time to discuss and go over the feedback recieved by both Senators (due on the 4th of January) and the public (from both the town hall meeting and other avenues), it is unlikely that the meeting of the 11th will have much discussion related to the report. Much more likely is that the Senate meeting of January 25th will hold this.

Edit as of 11:45, December 17th:

Earlier today, Dal News posted more information in a "Today@Dal" posting regarding the timing of the upcoming forum and methods of how community members may respond to the preliminary report. It is available here :
http://www.dal.ca/news/today/2015/12/17/ad_hoc_committee_of_senate_on_fossil_fuel_divestment_____preliminary_report_and_open_forum_on_jan__7.html


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