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Column: An Open Letter to Chancellor Gordon and President Ono (University of Brittish Columbia) – William Lacey

Dear Chancellor Gordon and President Ono,

I am writing to you today regarding your decision to divest from all investments in fossil fuel related companies within the endowment fund at The University of British Columbia. Though I take exception to this decision as you are effectively offshoring carbon-based fuel production to countries with lower environmental, ethical and regulatory standards than places such as Canada, I wish to discuss how you recently arrived at this decision.

On the weekend The University of British Columbia set a dangerous precedent in this country – their willingness to submit to blackmail. Extinction Rebellion held a hunger strike on campus with the stated desire to force the administration to divest of all hydrocarbon investments or face the consequences of their actions. On Saturday the hunger strike was called to a close with President Ono stating to media that “UBC is committed to full divestment as soon as possible, and we are taking the necessary steps to realize this now.”

As a publicly funded institution I am appalled by your willingness to submit to the repugnant actions of a vocal minority of eight students. Has the administration now set their benchmarks based on the greatest threats that are levied against them and the potential consequences therein? Would the administration value the opinions of those who hold the opposite views were they to levy the same ultimatum?

I am deeply disappointed by The University of British Columbia and its leadership. Your willingness to submit to such demands is a dangerous precedent in light of the many places in this world who are so desperately fighting for democratic institutions. Canada has been a land that has differentiated itself by its willingness to have an open dialogue on challenging topics. Your actions last week appear to have muted those views.

Kindest regards,

William Lacey

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