In a shocking show, eight students have staged a n*ked protest after it was revealed the University of Melbourne would continue to invest in the fossil fuel industry. The students climbed onto the roof of the Old Quad building at 10am on Tuesday and stripped off their clothes to reveal the message 'drop your assets' painted onto their bare backs and buttocks.
The protest is aimed against the university's administration decision to continue to invest in the fossil fuel industry. In a meeting conducted last Thursday between Fossil Free MU members and Chief Financial Officer Alan Tait, Mr Tait reiterated the university's stance that they would not be committing to divestment. 'Rapid divestment from fossil fuels is a crucial step on the pathway to a safe climate future,' said Professor John Wiseman, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute.
'Divestment from fossil fuels is therefore an urgent ethical and financial responsibility for all Australian investors and institutions – including universities.' 'We've had to be courageous and we're showing the University everything we've got,' said Master of Environment student Anastasia Gramatakos. 'It's now their turn to show us what they've got - to show some courage and take action against the fossil fuel industry.'
They remained on the building's roof for 10 minutes before security asked them to leave. The student group Fossil Free MU launched the fossil fuel divestment campaign in June 2013.In three years of campaigning, the students have held referendums, rallies, and forums to engage students, staff and the university council to promote divestment.
The current campaign is part of a national fossil fuel divestment effort that is taking place at seven universities across the country, including the Australian National University, The University of New South Wales, the University of Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology, The University of Sydney, and Monash University. Two universities, the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, have already made partial divestment commitments, and Swinburne University is in the process of seeking an investment fund that can provide a fossil free portfolio.