Why University of Victoria students voted to divest

University of Victoria students vote 77 per cent to urge campus divestment from fossil fuels.

Divest fossil fuels University of Victoria
University of Victoria student Leat Ahrony with an "I am voting to divest" poster. Photos from Divest UVic Facebook Page.

This week, University of Victoria students voted overwhelmingly  77 per cent in favour  to urge their university to divest from fossil fuels.  Organizers says it may be the largest margin of victory for a divest campaign of any Canadian campus.

Why did the students vote for the climate change action?

"To pressure companies to move to shift to renewable energy," wrote student Leat Ahrony.

"Because bankrolling the tar sands is a terrible idea," wrote another.

Have a peek at more of their photographed reasons below.

The vote result follows a professor vote on the island campus last year, when 66 per cent of faculty voted in favour of divesting fossil fuel holdings from the institution's pension and foundation.

The now-combined student and faculty votes mean all eyes are on the university's Board of Governors to determine next steps.

UBC faculty also voted to divest in February. That campus battle had critics saying the enviro move would not impact oil companies, and might scare off research dollars.

But divest proponents— who seem to be adding successful yes-to-divest votes at campuses every month now—argue the move, while symbolic, increasingly deprives fossil fuel companies of social licence.

“The urgency of the climate crisis demands immediate action,” said University of Victoria divest campus organizer Natalia Karpovskaia in a statement Thursday.

The divest movement, sparked by U.S. environmentalist Bill McKibben with 350.org, has caught fire with hundreds of universities in North America.  

Last month, Harvard University students (who pay in excess of $50,000 USD per year in tuition) stormed the President's office at the influential university to demand divestment action. Harvard Law students are also suing the university over the issue.

In Canada, 10 universities have held successful student votes to divest, and five have held successful faculty votes.

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