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Five thousand people have signed a petition launched by three recent university graduates asking Maclean's magazine to include an ethical investment category in their popular annual Canadian Universities Report.
Together, Canadian Universities invest billions every year in companies many consider to be unethical. In their petition Elysia Petrone, Kyuwon Kim, and Yasmin Parodi point out that investments in the tobacco companies, weapons companies, fossil fuel companies, in companies known to use sweatshops, or companies with ties to corrupt or violent governments are common to most Canadian universities.
"If Maclean's responds to our petition and creates an ethical investment ranking it will force universities to think seriously about where they're investing their billions," said Kyuwon Kim, a graduate of UBC. "Universities really care about how Maclean's ranks them. With this ranking they'll be able to see the progress others are making and will hopefully get competitive."
"We're excited so many people are signing our petition on Change.org," said Yasmin Parodi, a graduate of Ontario College of Art & Design. "We think our approach really puts a lot of power in the hands of students who might never have thought about what their university is investing in. I know all three of us would have loved to have this information when we were applying to university."
"I went to University for Environmental Studies, so I was shocked when I realized how much money Canadian universities were investing in some of the worst fossil fuel companies on the planet, said Elysia Petrone, a graduate of Lakehead University. "Then we did a little more research for our petition and realized that universities are invested in just about every other objectionable industry. It's hypocritical, especially when students are attending university to learn how to solve global problems."
New signatures and comments on Yasmin, Elysia and Kyuwon's petition are sent via email to Josh Dehaas, the editor of Maclean's On Campus. Maclean's magazine has published their annual Universities Report for 22 years.
The three recent grads were inspired to start their Maclean's petition on Change.org after seeing the success of three highschool students who launched a change.org petition for one of the U.S. Presidential debates to be moderated by a woman. That petition was victorious and resulted in the second presidential debate being moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley.
"It is so interesting to see the different ways people are using Change.org," said Lauryn Drainie, a Canadian campaigner with Change.org. "Elysia, Yasmin and Kyuwon have come up with an approach using the rankings Maclean's is already doing, and put forward an idea that could strongly impact how universities invest large amounts of money."