SFU350 presents their climate action demands to Board of Governors

The Board refers SFU350’s motion and pass an alternative motion

West Mall with the Rotundra in the centre
PHOTO: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, News Writer

The Board of Governors (BoG) meeting on September 28, 2021 began with a presentation by SFU350 on their Climate Emergency Open Letter and its demands. Since its release on August 11, 2021, the letter has gained over 900 signatures from students, faculty, staff, and community members. 

The Board voiced their support for SFU350’s proposal after the student group presented and left the call, but SFU350’s demands were delayed and referred to management in two separate motions. Serena Bains, the only undergraduate BoG representative, was the only one to vote against these delays. 

Following the presentation, board member Angie Hall moved a motion to respond to SFU350’s demands. 

The motion includes progress reports from management on SFU’s Race 2 Zero goals and for the Board to “recognize the unequivocal evidence of climate change,” amongst other demands. Bains moved to add the following amendments to Hall’s motion: to declare a climate emergency and commit to divesting from fossil fuels among other demands. She also asked for the Board of Governors to be updated on this progress by November 2021.

Bains’ amendment was not seconded, with Hall’s original motion passing successfully. 

In response to SFU350’s presentation, Johnson moved to consider SFU350’s demands at a later date. The Board said this was to gain time to carefully reflect and gather data before agreeing to SFU350’s demands. The Board voted in favour of Johnson’s motion, with one objection from Bains. 

“It was clear that the Board of Governors preferred to delay a vote on the 350 motion and avoid any accountability that comes along with voting against such a motion,” said Bains to The Peak. “I’ve never seen an amendment fail to receive a seconder and die on the floor like that.”

SFU released a statement following the BoG meeting. This statement outlined some of their work against climate change, announced their commitment to UN’s Race 2 Zero pledge, and stated they will be releasing more aggressive action items soon. They reported the Board requested regular updates on SFU’s progress with the pledge and for “management to respond to the proposal of SFU350 more quickly than the timeline requested by the student group.” 

The Peak spoke to WeiChun Kua, SFU350 executive and one of the presenters in the meeting. “Our intention from the very start of our climate emergency declaration campaign was to have SFU commit to declaring a climate emergency, commit to our 7 demands in principle, and [ . . . ] formulate a plan to execute those demands and report back by April 2022,” said Kua. 

“SFU is committing climate injustice with their delay tactics and by not acting on what students, faculty and staff are asking for, but we will keep pushing and we won’t stop until there is climate justice.”