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'A huge win': Occupy UW reacts to University of Waterloo’s commitment to disclose investments

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The group Occupy UW, who have been protesting the war in Gaza at the University of Waterloo (UW) campus, says they’re pleased to see the school approve three new motions but admit more work needs to be done.

The encampment started on May 13 as part of a massive wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations at post-secondary institutions across Canada and the United States.

After a special meeting Monday night between the University of Waterloo’s senate and board, the following were approved:

  1. Motion regarding investment disclosure
  2. Motion regarding institutional partnerships
  3. Motion regarding Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors

The motions mean UW has committed to an annual report disclosing the school’s investments that will then be presented in an open session. They will also create a decision-making framework on how the school gets in and out of institutional relationships, and integrating things like human rights and other social factors when making investment decisions.

The school said they were already on working on implementing these suggestions even before the encampment went up on campus.

“We were on a train towards making change to bring better disclosure to our investment portfolios, to do the work, to investigate how we can improve the way that we get into and out of institutional partnerships,” said Nick Manning, the associate vice-president at UW.

Occupy UW reacts

Protestors have been demanding the school be more transparent with their investments since the start of the encampment.

“We're not here to discuss stakeholder interests. Frankly, we don't care,” said Nicholas Joseph, the media liaison for Occupy UW.

The group admitted that having the motion approved to disclose investments could be a game-changer.

“We think this is a huge precedent. It's enormous. It's a huge win. And we're going to try to carry this momentum forward into our other demands,” Joseph added.

The group said this newest development doesn’t mean they’re planning on leaving the encampment.

“We're not going to capitulate or concede. I think the admin has made the mistake of thinking that this is a negotiation. It's not,” Joseph said.

He explained that the problem started long before the Gaza conflict and still hopes UW divests and ends its partnerships with all manufacturers and institutions that support the war.

“This is not something that's just a trend,” Joseph said. “Palestinians have been screaming for their human rights for generations and people have been neglecting them.”

The university said they plan on listening to voices from both sides to help determine the future path for the school.

“We we're in dialog with members of our encampment and hope to continue to [share] conversation with them,” Manning said.

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