Sackville — Student activists at Mount Allison University in Sackville are breathing a collective sigh of relief. On Friday, April 1, university president Robert Campbell assured members of Divest MTA, a campaign calling on the university to take its endowment fund investments out of the fossil fuel industry, that nothing outside of the campus’s borders have ever affected the university in any way, and that their campaign was no longer necessary.
In response, Divest MTA immediately suspended their campaign and apologized for championing fossil fuel divestment over the last 3 years. “We used to think that the university profiting off an industry that drives climate change and jeopardizes our future was morally unacceptable,” said Selma Maston, one of the campaign’s founders. “But president Campbell’s announcement has called our entire argument into question. Now I’m honestly a little embarrassed about starting the whole thing.”
In an email sent to the university community from his iPad, Campbell explained that all economic, political and environmental conditions in the world have had absolutely no effect on Mount Allison University, and that the university therefore had no obligation to respond to societal concerns from its students and faculty.
“The organizers of Divest MTA put on a really terrific campaign these last few years,” said Campbell. “But unfortunately they just didn’t know that our beautiful and award-winning campus is completely independent of the outside world so that students can focus on the learning and leadership for which our little school is renowned.”
Divest MTA started in 2013 and had since garnered the support of thousands of students, faculty and alumni, including official support by the Mount Allison Students’ Union and the Mount Allison Faculty Association. In response to Campbell’s announcement, the campaign has asked these organizations to withdraw their official support, and for students to dispose of the orange squares ubiquitous on bags and jackets around campus that symbolize support for divestment.
Alvin Pelianka, one of Divest MTA’s members, said that he plans on spending more time studying and not thinking about the outside world now that the campaign has ended.
“I’m really relieved to learn that we don’t need to worry about anything outside campus anymore,” said Pelianka. “I used to get so stressed thinking about my school being entrenched in the carbon-based neoliberal global economy that’s threatening our very existence, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders hearing president Campbell say we’re not part of anything whatsoever.”
In his email, Campbell also said that students and faculty had no reason to worry about rising sea levels threatening the university, despite Sackville being protected from the Bay of Fundy by crumbling 400-year-old dykes.
“Mount Allison prides itself in providing students with the best undergraduate education available in the country, and we can only do that with our members’ continued focus on matters only within our borders,” said Campbell.
“With my continued leadership I pledge to maintain Mount Allison’s complete isolation to all events and conditions outside our lovely 76-acre campus.”