June 8, 2016

Students threaten further action after being rejected from voicing their concerns to the University Senate

The University of Queensland today notified members of the student group Fossil Free UQ that they will not be allowed to present their case for fossil fuel divestment at the upcoming Senate meeting, due to take place on June 16.

The students are asking that the University withdraw their investments in fossil fuel companies, for both moral and financial reasons.  This campaign is part of a global movement encouraging institutions to move their money away from fossil fuels, which has been running at UQ for three years.

In April, Chief Operating Officer Greg Pringle signed an agreement with Fossil Free UQ that there would be ‘regular ongoing communication with regard to the University’s position on divestment’. Fossil Free UQ members prepared a briefing document for the Senate, which they submitted two weeks ago.

This briefing document was accompanied by a response paper from the Vice Chancellor, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer, which the students have been denied access to.

National Union of Students Environment Officer Izzy Manfield said, “As a public university, the University of Queensland should seriously reconsider their approach to ensuring their Senate is a transparent and accessible body for students. Stakeholders of the University, which includes students, would lose considerable faith in their institution if this behaviour by the University administration went public.”

Fossil Free member Katie Braid said the news came as a shock, “To be honest we did not expect to be locked out of the discussion that we have played such a huge part in catalysing.

“This seems to fly directly in the face of promises by Greg Pringle that we would be directly involved in communication with the University around divestment.

“They gave no reason for failing to uphold Mr Pringle’s agreement, or for rejecting our request to present our case. We are now considering other means to have our voices heard at the Senate,” she said.

This latest incident comes after a nationwide divestment protest which took place at seven universities around Australia in April, calling on executives to finally listen to their concerns about the university’s’ investments in fossil fuels.

At UQ the students occupied the Chancellery building for 10 hours, finally emerging with a signed agreement from Mr Pringle.

Media contacts:

Katie Braid

0424 284 212