British Columbia

'We need universities to get political now': Students slam UBC's plan to stay open during climate strikes

President Santa Ono said while he is proud of students, faculty and staff who have been fighting against climate change, there are no plans to shut down the university on Sept. 27th.

No planned cancellation of classes on Sept. 27, says president Santa Ono

Students during a climate strike march in Vancouver in May. A similar strike is planned for Sept. 27. ((Evan Mitsui/CBC))

The University of British Columbia's president says its Vancouver campus will remain open when thousands of students across Metro Vancouver are expected to join global climate strike rallies later this month.

The decision has drawn criticism from many students who are planning to strike on Sept. 27.

In a letter to the UBC community, Santa Ono said while he is proud of students, faculty and staff who have been fighting against climate change, "it is also important the university remain open to ensure continuance of the academic mission."

But some students feel that their university is missing an opportunity by staying open.

"I believe UBC as an institution could really be paving the way for other institutions to be taking a lead," said UBC student Raj Dhaliwal.

"We need universities to get political now," said Kate Hodgson, another student.

"We're at a point where we know that the climate crisis is so severe that refusing to engage in the political systems that are causing it is no longer an option."

Faculty members may cancel classes

Some UBC faculty members may cancel classes in support of the climate strike.

However, the university said they can request time off without pay or use vacation time to take part.

George Hoberg, a professor at UBC's School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, tweeted Tuesday that he didn't have scheduled classes on Sept. 27, but would be focusing his lessons next week on climate policy.

He also said he would donate a day's pay to a climate-action organization.

"Climate change really is a true emergency and we need to start treating it like that and I think that universities have to act accordingly," Hoberg told CBC.

"That really involves naming it as an emergency ... then taking bold action to show that they actually mean it."

Students groups organizing the climate strike on Sept. 27 plan to rally at Vancouver City Hall.

With files from Meera Bains

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