Undergraduate Geography Students Hold Climate Strike in Hall Building

Strikers Propose Measures for Concordia to Be Held Accountable for Their Divestment Plan

Students protested in Hall building for a more transparent divestment process. Photo Esteban Cuevas
Photo Esteban Cuevas
Photo Esteban Cuevas

Students from the Geography Undergrad Student Society held a strike on the ninth floor of the Hall Building on Friday afternoon.

GUSS is demanding that Concordia be held accountable for its divestment plan. This includes a student-faculty body to oversee divestment, and that all measures taken by the University are directly communicated to the student body and are completely transparent.

GUSS members voted unanimously in a general assembly for the strike on Nov. 5. “When we decided to go on strike we were pushing for divestment. It was funny, a week after they decided that they would start divesting.” said a student, who asked to remain anonymous. Striking students wished to remain anonymous and not have their faces shown on camera “to avoid repercussions.”

Concordia announced on Nov. 8 that it would be fully divesting from coal, oil, and gas sectors within five years. The original plan for the strike was to push for complete divestment.

GUSS also wants Concordia to declare a climate emergency. With that declaration, they want the school to alter the Sustainability Plan to include binding language, a shortening of the time frame for objectives.

“It’s not just about divestment, it’s about the larger picture too,” says Claire O’Sullivan, President of the GUSS. “More needs to be done for the climate, and divestment is just a part of the overall objective.”

“More needs to be done for the climate, and divestment is just a part of the overall objective.” — Claire O’Sullivan
Students called for swifter action on the climate crisis by the university. Photo Esteban Cuevas

According to her, it’s natural that GUSS is holding a climate strike, as geographers want a greener plan and are fighting for the environmental future.

“Every class, every day we deal with climate change,” said the anonymous student about their motivations as geography students.

“We have a class on divestment. So it’s very frustrating that we have a whole department dedicated to creating and thinking of solutions for the climate crisis, yet the actual school doesn’t do anything that’s very productive,” said the student.

“There’s definitely support for the ideals behind what we’ve done. I think [professors], they support us in spirit.”

The protest was held as part of the larger movement of global protests on the International Day of Climate Action.

GUSS felt that they should lead by example by being the first to declare a climate strike. “There’s a larger movement outside of the school, but there isn’t really that much going on in the school right now,” says O’Sullivan.

“It’s important to make sure the school sticks with their goals. Sometimes you give a hard deadline, but then it just keep being pushed back,” she says. “We really want the school to be open and honest with where the money is going. Students are serious about this, and we want to be taken seriously.”

With files from Alexandre Denis