Issue

Divestment

Fairness for students is institutional divestment from corporations and organizations that contribute to human rights abuses and violations and/or climate change around the world.

  • $3.4 trillion
    Over 500 institutions valued at $3.4 trillion have committed to divestment globally
  • 37
    Active divestment groups on college and university campuses across the country
  • 12
    Successful student campaigns in support of divestment in Canada

The Problem

Colleges and universities are substantial investors and together hold a collective power as they invest in corporations around the world.

  • Post-secondary institutions often receive large private donations that are placed in what is referred to as an endowment.
  • This is essentially a school’s savings account.
  • In some institutions, if they can afford to do so, portions of student tuition fees are also placed in this account.
  • The endowment is then invested into funds, corporations and companies, with the dual goal of growing the principal endowment while generating new income.

Investments become political decisions when the receiving party is involved in environmental destruction or the infringement of human rights.

  • Unfortunately, many college and university investments send funds to companies and corporations that engage in a range of unethical behaviours such as harmful resource extraction projects that contribute to climate change or complicity in illegal military occupations and other violations of international law.
  • Ontario’s institutions often invest in fossil fuel extraction companies such as Shell, Enbridge or Kinder Morgan and corporations involved in military conflicts and occupations around the world, like Motorola and BAE Systems.

Students Respond

Over the years, many students’ unions have been lobbying administrations to divest from these unethical investments.

  • Divestment campaigns push institutions to be mindful of what companies they put students’ tuition money towards.
  • In funding corporations such as Enbridge, an energy and oil giant or Motorola, a company whose technology is used by armed forces around the world, institutions are complicit in ongoing projects that destroy stolen Indigenous land and communities, commit human rights violations and support exploitative labour practices.

Calls for divestment are often accompanied with a call for the creation of Ethical Investment Policies for the college or university.

  • These policies act as a framework that institutions can follow to ensure any investments do not infringe on human rights or contribute to the growing crisis of climate change.
  • This dual approach – divestment and ethical investment – creates long-term change in regards to the future investments of an institution.

 

The Solution

Across the province, students are pressuring their institutions through divestment campaigns to promote safer and more sustainable environments for the future. Become a part of these efforts by pushing political parties in this election to support:

  • The creation of ethical investment policies on all college and university campuses across the province.
  • Immediate divestment from corporations and organizations that contribute to human rights abuses and violations and/or climate change around the world.
  • Inclusion of student representatives on boards of governance, committees and any decision-making bodies that have power over student monies.

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