University support sought for climate change march

  • Sep 11, 2019
  • Southern Rural Life

Otago University Students' Association is planning a march from the union lawn to the Octagon that day, joining school pupils in the third School Strike 4 Climate NZ as they march from the dental school to the Octagon.

OUSA president James Heath, Te Roopu Maori tumakai Taylor Terekia and Pacific Island Students' Association president Mary Jane Kivalu have written an open letter calling on vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne to endorse the involvement of students and staff.

Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University and Lincoln University have already voiced their support, and Otago Polytechnic has also released a statement saying its staff and students will participate in the Strike 4 Climate Change.

Mr Heath said he had had support from lecturers and students for the march and for the letter, and was awaiting the university's response.

''Climate change is the single great threat to our collective future and our community is rallying behind the various calls to action,'' Mr Heath said.

''We're expecting a significant turnout from the university and across the city.''

The letter also called for a meeting with the university council to determine how to ''further tackle climate change on our own campus''.

''This means first taking stock of the work already done, such as the university's work on sustainability.''

A university spokeswoman said it was still deciding how to respond to the students.

Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said supporting the cause tied into Otago Polytechnic's focus on sustainability.

''We have embedded the concept of sustainable practice through both our curriculum development and campus development over the past decade; we are a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition; and we have a wide range of strong environmental partnerships.''

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