Silent protest washed away
C/O Yoohyun Park
MacDivest paints mural to demand attention from the Board of Governors
On March 4, 2021, McMaster University announced that President David Farrar had urged the Board of Governors to divest from their use of fossil fuels as an investment pool.
“President David Farrar has asked the Board of Governors to put in place a strategy to divest fossil fuels from the university’s institutional investment pool as soon as possible,” stated the University.
Farrar spoke about how the McMaster community wants to see consistent changes.
“It is necessary, alongside our carbon reduction activities, to confirm that we want to be a leader in these areas and so today I asked the university’s Board of Governors to work with us to put in place a strategy to divest fossil fuels from our institutional investment pool as soon as possible,” said Farrar.
As a group, MacDivest has two goals. The first is a continual attempt to raise awareness about McMaster’s investment in fossil fuels. The second aims to create a plan for divestment that has a basis behind it, factoring in McMaster and the current environmental climate.
As such, the group has organized, and continues to plan, different ways to bring light to this issue. On Sept. 13, they banded together to paint a mural with the phrase “No brighter world without divestment” on the front steps of Gilmour Hall.
Simran Dhindsa, a member of MacDivest, explained why this was chosen.
“We were debating multiple places . . . but once we arrived to the area we were like this seems like the perfect place to lay out our image. [We chose that area] because the Board of Governors office is there. Our mural was a message to them, to bring awareness that we have been demanding action about climate change for a while and about divestment,” said Dhindsa.
She went on to explain that the mural was painted due to a lack of action from the Board of Governors.
“Seeing news like [Farrar’s announcement] is motivating, that conversations like that are happening. At the same time, it seems more to just say that ‘conversation’ is happening instead of actually taking action about them. MacDivest earlier this year sent hundreds of letters to the Board of Governors and they didn’t really acknowledge that or even give a reply,” explained Dhindsa.
Srishti Sharma, a student at McMaster, saw the mural being painted that morning.
“I thought it was very empowering,” said Sharma.
According to Dhindsa, five hours after they had painted the mural it was promptly washed off. She explained that they had begun at 9 a.m. and by 1 p.m. it was being washed off. However, despite the mural being washed off, Dhindsa believes they had made their message clear.
“David Farrar — we had met him that morning and he did see us make the mural. So I think we kind of accomplished our goal of making them aware,” said Dhindsa.
On Sept, 16, MacDivest shared an official response to McMaster’s treatment of the mural.
“We are deeply disappointed at McMaster’s lack of tolerance to a mural that was not obscene or impeding anyone’s experience on campus . . . The power washing of the mural was symbolic of the treatment our efforts encouraging McMaster to divest have endured,” stated MacDivest.
When the Silhouette reached out to the Board of Governors, they declined an interview.