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Campus Life - Kamloops  

Meeting leads to agreement on exploring concerns about investments, protests

KAMLOOPS ­— A meeting between Thompson Rivers University (TRU) executives and students has led to an agreement about ways to explore students’ concerns about the university’s investments and its stance on political protests and statements.

Earlier this week, TRU received an email from unnamed individuals with the People’s University of Gaza at TRU. The email demanded TRU disclose and divest investments that might support Israel or companies that do business with Israel. It also suggested that “more assertive forms of peaceful action” could ensue if demands were not met.

TRU invited the group to meet with members of the university’s senior executive team to further discuss their issues and that meeting was held Friday afternoon.

“The meeting was cordial and productive,” said Vice-President of University Relations Brian Daly, who attended along with two other vice-presidents and two academic leaders. “We discussed a wide range of issues and agreed on ways we can provide the information these students seek while respecting the needs and well-being of the TRU community as a whole.”

At the meeting, TRU agreed to process any Freedom of Information requests related to TRU’s investments within 30 days, the time required by B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The university also agreed to review proposals presented by the students related to their desire to see divestment of specific investments.

“With the same consideration we would provide to any TRU student request, we will review proposals made regarding divestment. However, it is important to note that TRU already follows stringent guidelines and policies regarding our investments,” Daly added.

The students were told TRU applies a responsible investment approach that aligns with industry best practices established by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. It’s also important to note that TRU collaborates with UNIE/Share, an organization advising post-secondary institutions on environmental, social and governance issues.

The university confirmed its commitment to the right to peaceful student demonstrations.

“TRU’s priority is the well-being of our students, staff, faculty and community,” said Daly. “We support the right to peaceful student demonstrations in alignment with TRU’s commitment to academic freedom and our policies around the responsible use of university space.”

Lastly, the students asked about TRU’s stance on making political statements. They were told TRU has adopted a practice of neutrality on global political issues. The university does not take positions on global events in recognition of the diverse viewpoints within its community but instead, focuses on creating an environment that respects differing perspectives while providing support to those affected by global events.

President Brett Fairbairn, who was not in Kamloops and could not attend the meeting, said TRU meets regularly with students to discuss topics of importance, such as current events in the Middle East. Meetings will also be held with staff and faculty to discuss their concerns about the ongoing conflict.

“It’s important that we listen to the full range of voices in our community. We know there are many perspectives to be heard and understood, and we will continue to engage with everyone as necessary. Our main goal is to continue to live by our values and our mission, which is to provide an educational space that is respectful and inclusive.”

The meeting between TRU and the students comes at a time when pro-Palestine encampments have emerged at other universities in B.C. and Canada.

“I’m grateful that students at TRU felt comfortable in agreeing to speak with us directly. Peaceful, respectful dialogue must always be the preferred way to reach resolutions on the difficult social issues that confront us today,” Fairbairn said.

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