06 May, 2015
To the SFU Board of Governors,
Members of the SFU community supporting Divest SFU are very concerned about the lack of communication from the Board of Governors and the office of the VP Finance and Administration to the SFU community regarding the delayed release of the custodian reports. It is deeply concerning that no explanation was provided for the change in the release date from April 30, 2015 to May 12, 2015—the second delay, following an initial postponement from the original promised date of release in late December 2014. We hope that the Board of Governors’ Responsible Investment Committee and the VP Finance and Administration will honour their commitments and indeed release the custodian reports for SFU’s endowment by May 12, 2015.
This delay is a disappointment for the many students and faculty who have signed a petition and open letter calling for investment transparency. Indeed, while the release of custodian reports is a first and crucial step in the process of divestment from fossil fuels, such action will merely bring SFU to par with UBC in terms of investment accountability and transparency. As such, we reiterate our demand that the Board promptly investigate and report back to the community on the carbon risk of the university’s investments.
We acknowledge the good intentions of the Board of Governors and VP Finance and Administration, and the exciting opportunity the Responsible Investment Committee has to be a leader among other world-class universities in creating transparent and responsible investment policies. However, there is a lack of accountability with regard to addressing the interests of the SFU community. The Board of Governors is part of, and accountable to, the SFU community: it must see itself not merely as a collection of detached governors, but as partners with all university constituents. Such a relationship demands explanation for extended deadlines and information when the Board and senior administration fail to complete tasks in a reasonable timeline.
Without such examples of accountability and transparency, the Board fails in its duty to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and responsible governance and, instead, risks an adversarial relationship with the community it purports to represent. We thus call upon the Board and VP Finance and Administration to regard the SFU community with due respect by following through with their future commitments in regular communication with community members to provide updates on their progress. Such action will allow for a nuanced and thoughtful dialogue on divestment that will strengthen the SFU community while highlighting SFU as a leader in climate justice and the transition to a sustainable future.