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“The school needs to put their money where their mouth is”: Divest Dalhousie

Divest Dalhousie raised this "Shellhousie" flag on campus Tuesday, April 7, 2015.
Divest Dalhousie raised this "Shellhousie" flag on campus Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Rylie Arnell

HALIFAX- Dalhousie University is getting some flak from student advocacy group, Divest Dalhousie, for accepting $600,000 from Shell Canada.

On Tuesday, Divest Dalhousie members raised a “Shellhousie” flag in the middle of the campus to protest what they call the University’s “cozy” relationship with oil and gas companies and their refusal to divest.

The “Shellhousie” flag shows the Dalhousie crest merged with the Shell logo.

Bethany Hindmarsh, a member of Divest Dalhousie, says the group obtained documents through freedom of information requests about the Shell donation.

They said the documents show the money from Shell is in no way a gift.

In an interview with Global News, Hindmarsh said that $100,000 of the money from Shell will be used by the school for offshore oil exploration fund that will go towards student training related to offshore oil and gas exploration and development.

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“Everything from hard hats, to microscopes they use will have to have the shell logo on it,” she said, “That is not a gift, that is a contract.”

Dalhousie’s Board of Governors made a decision pertaining to divestment in November of 2014, and the chair of the board Lawrence Stordy released a statement detailing their decision and the reasons behind it.

“We understand and agree with the goals of Divest Dal, but cannot accept their proposition that Dalhousie divest its holdings in 200 publicly-traded energy and coal companies which are judged to hold substantial carbon assets,” read the statement.

Hindmarsh says the group is appalled with the school for signing a deal that involves searching for more reserves rather than keeping oil in the ground.

Dalhousie University is well known for their award winning environmental science and world class school of sustainability programs, and Divest Dalhousie says that they want to see the school try to do more than just attract people with the programs.

They want Dalhousie to create a more sustainable campus and world.

“The school needs to put their money where their mouth is,” said Hindmarsh. “The university should not be profiting from the wreckage of the planet.”

Dalhousie says they have done their part and, “acted upon its responsibility to play its part in combating climate change.”

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The statement says that the University recently invested $45 million in sustainability projects on their campuses, resulting in a 20 per cent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions since 2010.

But Divest Dalhousie member Emma Halupka doesn’t agree. ““Dal’s decision-makers more concerned about their allegiances to the fossil fuel industry than they are about their responsibilities to students.”