by Harriet Conron | @harrietconron
RMIT has committed to conducting an ethical review of its investment portfolio and reporting on its carbon footprint, after students presented a thousand-signature petition to Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean.
Students and staff representing Fossil Free RMIT marched through the city campus today to deliver the petition, calling for RMIT to divest from fossil fuels.
Mr Bean received the petition on Bowen Street, and congratulated the group on their efforts.
“You’ve actually been good citizens fighting for something you believe in,” he said.
After the delivery of the petition, Mr Bean met with four students from Fossil Free RMIT to discuss their proposal.
Fossil Free RMIT campaign organiser Megan Williams said the review is a positive first step, but she would like to see RMIT commit to removing fossil fuels from its portfolio.
Mitchell Connolly was also at the meeting. He said RMIT was really thrilled to see how the campaign had grown over the last year.
“The Vice-Chancellor is really keen to hear students’ views and opinions on how the university should be run, and thinks there should be maximum transparency.”
Less than three per cent of RMIT’s $60 million endowment fund is invested in fossil fuels.
The fossil free movement is has been gathering steam on campuses across Australia, with students pressuring University boards to sell off shares in fossil fuel industries over the last two years.
In February, Sydney University announced plans to cut the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio by 20 per cent over three years.
Last year, the ANU divested stocks in seven companies after it conducted an independent review into the social, political and environmental impacts of its investment portfolio.
“No university in Australia has fully divested from fossil fuels yet, and that gives RMIT an excellent opportunity,” said Megan Williams.
Photo: Harriet Conron