Fall 2017: Things are heating up this term (not the least of which is the climate)

A lot of exciting things are happening this term! So many things, actually, that it could get a little overwhelming. So, to make things less hectic, here is a simple breakdown of all the divestment action you’ll want to get in on this term:

  1. Despite our opposition, the Responsible Investment Working Group (the group set up by the Board of Governors to study the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) implications of the University’s investments) will be wrapping up its call for comments this Friday, October 13, 2017. So, if you haven’t yet, hurry and send an email to Mike Grivicic, the group secretary, to let him know that you don’t want the University to fund climate change with your money anymore. Know any other strong divestment supporters? Make sure they send the RIWG an email as well! See more information about the Responsible Investment Working Group (RIWG) here.
  2. To illustrate the widespread student-, alumni-, staff-, and faculty-support for fossil fuel divestment on campus, we’ve launched a petition. So, sign it! Share it! And, share it some more! All student, alumni, staff and faculty signatures are welcome!
  3. Want another way of showing your support for fossil fuel divestment? Want to learn from various experts on climate change, divestment and environmental finance? Maybe eat some free food? Then, save the date for our Divestment and Free Food event on Tuesday,  October 24 from 5:00-7:00 pm in the Grad House. See you all there!

Pipeline Resistance Info Day


Fossil Free UW will be hosting a Pipeline Resistance Information day. Previously circulated leaflets said this event would take place at Laurier on November 22 and Waterloo December 2, these events have been postponed. They will be advertized here, on our Facebook, and mailing list when they are finalized. We hope you can come. In the meantime both Chippewas of the Thames and the water protectors at Standing Rock are looking for material support and political pressure. Please visit the following sites for ways you can contribute to these struggles:

Stand with Standing Rock

Chippewas Solidarity

Team meeting October 12

We will be gathering at QNC 1502 on Wednesday October 12th at 5:30pm for a normal Fossil Free meeting. Any new members are welcome to attend! We will also be holding a new members orientation the following week, details TBA. We will send this our to our mailing list as well so keep posted.

Vote #keepwpirg on September 26-28

By Rob Reid, Fossil Free UW

Later this month, our umbrella group the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG) is facing a referendum to defund it. This article is an endorsement of the Yes\Keep campaign and those wishing to read about the No side afterward may visit the links included below.

WPIRG is a student-run incubator and resource hub for social change on campus and in the wider community. One contribution WPIRG makes is through Action Groups (such as us, Food Not Bombs, the UW Community Garden, KW Solidarity Network), with whom they share funding, strategic advice, and networking. In addition WPIRG brings speakers to campus, runs conferences, film screenings and festivals, offers grants and bursaries and much more. They’ve been a positive force for change at UW since 1973 and we would be heartbroken to see them be defunded. You can find out more about WPIRG through the Yes committee website as well as their own webpage.

The No committee, built from members of the Opt-in UW group is framing their argument in terms of opposition to the mechanics of the optional fees system uses. Like other services including the Student Refugee Program, the Imprint newspaper, the FEDS/GSA health and dental plan, and the faculty-specific student societies and endowment funds (like SciSoc and WatSEF, AHSUM and AHSEF etc), WPIRG is funded by a refundable fee, meaning everyone is charged that fee along with tuition before each term and must request a refund afterward. WPIRG’s fee is 4.25 per term, and like all refundable fees was added to the fees schedule by referendum.

Fossil Free is arguing in support of the Yes committee to keep WPIRG. Like the other services mentioned, WPIRG is one of the many facets of campus that make it a dynamic place; stirring up ideas, supporting actions for positive change. Even if a student were to actively avoid the groups, events, and resources that WPIRG makes possible during their whole academic career, they would still benefit from its presence contributing to the vibrancy and the resiliency of the community. Speaking specifically to the mechanics of the fee administration that the No committee is messaging: the opt-in fee makes it simple for the majority of students who don’t get their refunds and the fact that opt-in fees can only be approved by students at referendum ensures that these fees are not spent on irrelevant or inappropriate costs.

From our experience with energy companies, Fossil Free finds it useful to look at the subtext of the marketing that the No committee is putting forward and understand that real values and ideas being represented. With austerity budgets, far-right politics, and increased militarization and surveillance of civil life on the rise globally, traditional liberal ideas such as welfare, multiculturalism, and human and environmental rights are being aggressively challenged. In Canada, there has been a concerted effort to attack the left on campuses over the past few years. The article Defunding the public interest, published in Briarpatch magazine, reports on the tactics used to challenge left politics on campuses through controlling student government and defunding organizations like the PIRGS. It is based largely on material posted to WikiLeaks from secret trainings, one notably led by ousted Kitchener-Waterloo MP Peter Braid. This is mentioned not to imply that Opt-In UW is part of a shadowy right-wing conspiracy, but rather to raise the question of the group’s real message, values, and mission and to encourage open discussion considering the real argument going on.

Please consider the big picture, what kind of campus you want to live and learn on, and what kind of future you are fighting for when you cast your votes September 26-28.

Please note that this article is does not necessarily represent the opinions of anyone other than its author, including any WPIRG Board, Staff, or other members.