Response to student protesters and staff group

A statement from the Principal on the University's investments.

Thank you for meeting with Leigh, Kim and Jo yesterday, as a follow up on the outcomes of discussions at University Executive. 

As we stated in our other communications, we abhor the violence and loss of life caused by the recent conflict and are also deeply concerned about the students on hunger strike. We have appreciated your input around our Responsible Investment Policy review and are committed to doing more regarding transparency in this area. This feedback led to the three significant actions noted in our email of the 14th May, and agreed by University Executive.

Yesterday you confirmed that you do not think that these actions are sufficient, and requested we immediately disinvest from Alphabet and Amazon, or at the very least consider pre-emptive divestment in advance of the outcomes of the working group looking at the definition of armaments. You also said that you felt the timeline for the working group (3 weeks) was too long.

We have considered your suggestions and remain of the view that the outcomes agreed by University Executive are the appropriate way to consider our approach to investments, providing the relevant work to further inform our current consultation around the Responsible Investment Policy. 

Recognising your understandable concerns around urgency, we have discussed in detail the possibility of expediting the timeline for the working group; however, colleagues involved are of the strong opinion that the original timeline is the minimum within which we can deliver a meaningful, informed output, particularly given the requirement to obtain information from our investment advisors. 

Following our discussions, and recognising your concerns, we are actively exploring with our investment advisers the potential for restrictions on new unit purchases of either company, directly or indirectly held, pending the output of the working group. 

We want to ensure that the dialogue continues in a positive environment of openness and will appoint a professional mediator, external to the University, who will work with us all towards progress. We believe that will provide a focused, impartial and skilled way to take forward continued conversations. 

The actions that we committed to following University Executive on Tuesday are already underway with invitations issued to the Short Life Working Group focused on the definitions work. We also hope that as many members of our University community as possible will participate in the consultation on the Responsible Investment Policy helping ensure that we have a transparent policy that we can all stand by. 

Professor Peter Mathieson 

Principal and Vice-Chancellor 

17 May 2024