YUACRI members respond to suspension in open letter

An image of Vari Hall on a summer day with the caption, "This Is Divestment [from weapons and fossil fuels]"

An image of Vari Hall on a summer day with the caption, “This Is Divestment [from weapons and fossil fuels]”

The following open letter was issued by the majority of members, including YUFA members, on the York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI). The open letter is a response to the York administration’s decision on March 31, 2017 to suspend YUACRI and all its activities.

An Open Letter to the Administration of York University: 

End the Suspension of the York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment

April 5, 2017

We, the undersigned, represent the majority of members on the York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI). On March 31, 2017, the York administration notified YUACRI members of its decision “to suspend the activities of the committee pending a full review of the functioning of the committee.” We are dismayed and disappointed by this decision and call for its immediate reversal.

YUACRI was established by the President’s Office in the fall of 2013. In the last year, YUACRI has carefully considered a proposal to divest from five arms manufacturers, and another to divest from companies that engage in the extraction, processing, and transport of fossil fuels. YUACRI endorsed the first proposal on February 10, 2017 and the second proposal on March 3, 2017. Both decisions were made by a clear majority of members at duly constituted meetings.

During the March 3 meeting, two YUACRI members, including the Chair, abruptly left in the middle of the agenda. A third member left shortly thereafter. The remaining members, who constitute a majority, continued to meet with quorum and, fully respecting YUACRI’s terms of reference, voted unanimously to endorse the divestment proposal on fossil fuels. In its letter announcing YUACRI’s suspension, the administration tries to argue that the departure of certain members from the meeting represented its adjournment, and that the vote was therefore invalid. But YUACRI’s terms of reference do not allow a minority of members to end a meeting unilaterally. YUACRI’s vote was fair and legitimate.

We are deeply concerned that YUACRI’s suspension will be seen as a last-minute, heavy-handed attempt by the administration to block a decision it opposes. Some representatives of the administration have made no secret of their hostility to these proposals, but we did not expect them to take such extreme and undemocratic steps.

It is important to note that YUACRI is an advisory committee. The final decision to implement these recommendations lies with the Vice-President Finance & Administration, the Investment Committee of the Board of Governors, and the Board of Governors as a whole. If any of these bodies oppose YUACRI’s recommendations, the administration should not preempt their opposition by attempting to overturn YUACRI’s democratic decision.

As YUACRI members, we remain committed to completing the work we began many months ago. We therefore call on the administration to immediately end its suspension of YUACRI and to cease any further attempt to interfere in and/or delay its work.

We invite members of the York community to support this call by directly contacting the administration: email brewerg@yorku.ca and copy president@yorku.ca and yuacri2017@gmail.com.

For a sample letter of support for YUACRI, please click here.

Sincerely,

Manisha Joshi-Vijayan
President’s Sustainability Council, Student Sub-Committee representative, YUACRI

Evan Light
Faculty representative, YUACRI

Mithilen Mathipalan
YFS representative, YUACRI

Mina Rajabi Paak
YUGSA representative, YUACRI

Anna Zalik
Faculty representative, YUACRI