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Burnaby students rescind hunger strike threat after SFU commits to divestment of fossil fuels

Students demanded school fully divest by 2025
Simon Fraser University students were demanding that university administration commit to fully divesting from fossil fuels by 2025.

SFU students demanding university administrators commit to full divestment from fossil fuels are not going to move forward with a planned hunger strike. 

Students were set to begin the hunger strike yesterday (Nov. 1) but withdrew when the university released a statement where they said they are committing to full divestment from fossil fuels by 2025. 

The students gave the university an ultimatum a month ago. 

"Today is a victory. If a small group of students at a university can do this, anyone can," said campaign media coordinator Jaden Dyer yesterday (Nov. 1) after the announcement by the school administration. 

"I would advise other campaigners to not give up and escalate their nonviolent tactics. We are the last generation who can save this planet.” 

Had the hunger strike gone ahead, participants would only consume salt, lemon water and vitamin until the university administration accepted their demands. 

In the statement yesterday by the university, SFU said they have had a carbon reduction strategy for "many years" and is a leader among Canadian universities for taking action in responsible investment. 

"The university has already achieved zero direct investments in fossil fuels and only five percent of indirect investments remain in fossil fuel-related industries," the release reads. 

"This is the final step in the journey toward full divestment."

The university says the Investment Advisory Committee (IAC), which is a subcommittee of the Board of Governors, provides investment advice on SFU's ^650 million endowment fund and $550 million non-endowment or working capital funds. 

"We are guided in our reduction targets by the Responsible Investment Committee (RIC) of the Board of Governors, and a Responsible Investment policy.

"We have been in discussion with these groups for years as we work to achieve targets and will meet in late November to finalize goals and timelines.

"We believe we can be fully divested from fossil fuels by 2025. Following discussion with the IAC and RIC, we will publish the final approved goal."

While the demand to commit to full divestment of fossil fuels has been met and called a victory, the students have requested the school commit to taking "tangible action" in opposition of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, saying the last efforts by administration toward the project was in 2016. 

The students want an official statement of opposition along with educating the campus community on the alleged safety risks that go along with the installation of the new expanded tank petro-facility on Burnaby Mountain. 

"Amplifying the voices of SFU administration, SFU students, and local Indigenous Nations (whose unceded traditional territories all three of SFU’s campuses reside), in collaboration, may exert some political influence to amend the project, with the safety of students, faculty, staff, and local peoples being of greatest concern," the students involved say.