Presentation of Divestment Motion
Presentation of Divestment Motion to Finance and General Purposes Committee: Speech given on 12/01/18 by Will Stringer (President) RCS SU
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read through the Student Union Council’s proposal for divestment from fossil fuels and mining for the Conservatoire.
This motion was passed unanimously through Student Union Council and is now policy of the Student Union, for those who are unaware the Student Union Council is composed of representatives from programmes of the Conservatoire as well as liberation, section and elected executive officers. As President of the Student Union I am proud to present this motion to you and I wanted to outline some of the main arguments to highlight the importance that this motion has as well as the many benefits agreeing to a timeline of divestment can have for the Conservatoire.
First off, the issue.
It is the belief of the Student Union that there are moral and ethical issues of the Conservatoire investing in fossil fuels and mining. Fossil fuels are the main contributors to climate change, man made environmental disaster that we are already seeing the effects of. These companies have widely reported unethical practices including BP having been found to violate human rights in Baku- Ceyhan. Despite this, Higher Education largely buries its head in the sand. As a public body with students that care we cannot do this. We are starting to see this change with the likes of Bristol, California University, Glasgow Uni and SOAS committing to divest.
But the Conservatories investments are so small so what does it matter? I’m not suggesting that the Conservatoire is suddenly going to change the look of the fossil fuel industry by divesting, of course not, but we are third in the world, with a significant role in leading a creative future. That future cannot exist if we sit back and take a passive approach. In yesterdays BMus Programme Validation event Diana Salazar talked about how students at the Conservatoire are Agents for Change, our Principal talks of divergent creativity and we see our current students and graduates continually making and responding to climate change whether that is internationally acclaimed artist Nic Green or a current BMus2 student commitment to reduce plastic consumption.
What other benefits are there to divesting?
The Conservatoire can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability through a public announcement on the agreement to divest demonstrating to its current students, graduates and staff that they are leading the way in the Conservatoire sector. We can be seen as the Green Conservatoire in the UK, an attractive prospect for the ethically minded potential student. Clearly marking RCS as a place that “does things differently”; we are unique and outward looking.
By creating a transparent ethical investment policy, students can be more aware of the financial workings of the Conservatoire and build its future together with staff and senior management.
Thanks and I look forward to your questions.