Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

[Principal and Vice Chancellor]
[Principal and Vice Chancellor]

Advisory committee seeks input as it considers divestment request

Letter to the Editor, Calgary HeraldAugust 21, 2015

I would like to thank our alumnus Deborah Yedlin for her article. As she correctly highlights, a number of issues must be considered at Queen’s, and at other universities across Canada and the United States, as they deal with the question of divestment from fossil fuels.

However, the article may leave the reader with the impression that Queen’s has already made a decision on divestment, and that it is not encouraging a full discussion on this issue. In fact, the opposite is true.

A number of months ago, I struck an advisory committee to consider the question of divestment, after a petition requesting divestment was received from a student group, supported by signatures from faculty, staff and alumni. This is a step that is mandated by the university’s Statement on Responsible Investing.

Recognizing that there are strongly held views on both sides of the debate, the committee is charged with consulting broadly with stakeholders, including alumni, and engaging in a meaningful dialogue. It has already benefited from the many written submissions and oral presentations it has received from across the country.

The committee’s members include individuals with deep knowledge of responsible investing, the energy sector, and climate change science, as well as students, staff, faculty and alumni. It will make a recommendation as to whether the university should take no action, divest, or engage with companies through other means, and the final decision will rest with the investment committee of the Board of Trustees.

The university is a place for free exchange of different views on complex questions, of which this is one. Queen’s deeply values the insight and support of its alumni across the country. I encourage anyone who wishes to make their views known to send their comments to the committee at divestment@queensu.ca before September 17, in order to inform its deliberations and recommendations.

Sincerely,

Daniel Woolf,
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Queen’s University