U of T students, faculty, and community members congregated downtown on Thursday evening to rally against U of T’s current financial investments in fossil fuel companies.
Lobbying efforts calling on U of T to divest fossil fuel investments led U of T to form a presidential advisory committee earlier this year, which is now in the process of reviewing feedback that they have received from the U of T community.
According to Althea Blackburn-Evans, a U of T spokesperson, U of T will not reveal how much the university currently has invested in fossil fuel–related financial investments, explaining difficulties in doing so stem from differing definitions of what one would deem to be a fossil fuel company or investment. Difficulties also stem from pooled funds that the university invests, which, according to Blackburn-Evans, does not allow the university to provide a firm number.
According to second-year student Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, who was one of the rally organizers from the group Toronto350, an advocacy group for climate change, approximately 200 people attended the rally held on Thursday evening. Scheduled specifically to coincide with a Governing Council meeting that also took place that evening, individuals from Toronto350 presented a letter to governors outlining why the university should divest, in addition to postcards signed by prospective U of T students explaining their interest in attending a university that does not invest in fossil fuel companies.
“If a prestigious university like U of T were to divest, it would send a very clear message to the industry that we don’t support dirty energy,” said Harvey-Sanchez.
According to Blackburn-Evans, more than 20 submissions were made by the October 14 deadline, which was extended from the original September 30 deadline. Submissions were made following an open call from the presidential advisory committee beginning this past June. The committee is expected to present their recommendations to U of T president Meric Gertler, who is responsible for making the final decision as to the future of the university’s current fossil fuel investments.
Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced its decision to continue making fossil fuel–related investments after the university was called upon by students and the university community to cease doing so.
A decision regarding the future of U of T’s fossil fuel investments is expected to be made by the end of the year.