A group of students at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby have given their school administrators an ultimatum: it has four weeks to commit to a full divestment from fossil fuels or a hunger strike will commence on Nov. 1.
Jaden Dyer, a fourth-year SFU student and media coordinator for the campaign, says, “Accepting our ultimatum will not only have an immediate impact, but a rippling one, that will act to shift cultural attitudes towards the use of fossil fuels worldwide. So I hope that the administrators will prove to be the leaders they want today’s and tomorrow’s students to look up to - the leaders they want to go down in history as. Because how can SFU expect to raise the leaders of tomorrow if they are not willing to lead by example today?”
Educational institutions around the world have made this pledge, including Harvard University earlier this month.
The ultimatum delivered to SFU also involves administrators making a meaningful statement on fire safety on campus as a result of the new expanded tank petro-storage facility being built on Burnaby Mountain, Dyer said.
The hunger strike will be held in the Academic Quadrangle, the central hub of SFU’s Burnaby campus. Prior to the Nov. 1 date, a public talk will be held to recruit volunteers in both hunger striking and supportive roles. The momentum of the campaign will be used to encourage other students across Canada to engage in similar tactics to pressure their institutions to divest, Dyer said.
Tim Takaro, an anti-TMX activist and head of the SFU Health Science Department, says, “The Board of Governors is not understanding the urgency of the climate crisis. Even hundreds of deaths in the province this summer from climate change has not been enough to change their slow-walking policies on divestment, nor has it moved the SFU President to vocally oppose construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline under the campus. As the fire risk in the forest around campus grows, and the only exit off the mountain remains adjacent to the expanding fuel storage facility, we have a local existential threat on top of the global climate threat. When leadership fails at all levels of government, in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, students and other citizens are forced to take extraordinary measures to protect themselves and future generations.”