Memorial University of Newfoundland

05/24/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/24/2024 13:46

Meeting with protest organizers

Campus and Community

May 24, 2024

By Dr. Neil Bose

Earlier today I, and members of the Memorial leadership team, met with organizers of the encampment on the St. John's campus.

The organizers shared their demands and we had a discussion about disclosing, divesting and boycotting.

We are grateful that these important discussions are occurring at our university and around the world. They have already resulted in conversations internally about our approach to investments, particularly in relation to environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations.

At Memorial, the endowment funds, non-endowment funds, and pension funds are primarily invested in pool accounts with individual investment management firms. Memorial expects investment firms to incorporate ESG considerations into their investment philosophy.

As one point of clarification, student tuition is not used to fund investments. Pension, endowed and non-endowed funds are funded by employee contributions and donations received.

Memorial is open to hearing from students and other members of our community on this, or any other topic. Any decision or changes the university makes must allow time and space for collegial consultation and responsible decision making.

In the meeting we took the opportunity to affirm the rights of students to peacefully protest and to do so without fear of reprisal. We also commended students on the well organized and peaceful nature of their protests in the last few weeks. We will continue to work with them to maintain their safety and security, as well as the safety and security of students, staff and faculty.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that protest activity, even peaceful protests, can trigger feelings of unease and heighten tension among members of our community.

Supports are available for students, faculty or staff who have questions or would like to discuss their concerns. All students can contact [email protected]. If they prefer, international students can contact [email protected], while graduate students can reach out to [email protected]. Faculty and staff can contact their unit head or access resources from Memorial's Employee Assistance Program.

Universities are meant to be a place where individuals are free to question, challenge and engage in complex issues, and where conflicting views can be respectfully shared and considered. Memorial is committed to upholding the principles of academic freedom, respecting diverse perspectives and fostering an inclusive environment for all members.

We remain willing to meet with students to continue this important conversation.

Previous updates on this topic:

Dr. Neil Bose is president and vice-chancellor pro tempore at Memorial. He can be reached at [email protected].

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