Fossil Free Mac: it’s time to end private partnerships

On January 30, President Brian Rosenberg sent a statement to our community opposing the Trump administration’s recent travel ban. Then, on February 9, President Rosenberg sharply criticized the inexperience of incoming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Through these statements, President Rosenberg laid the groundwork for the college to counter the dangerous policies of Mr. Trump.

In the context of the current political moment, we applaud President Rosenberg’s outspokenness, but the college needs to take more tangible action to demonstrate its dissatisfaction with the status quo. We are currently profiting from the fossil fuel industry through a variety of endowment investments, including long-term private limited partnerships (as the administration just revealed to Fossil Free Mac last semester). These private partnerships make up 50 percent of the college’s investments in the oil and gas industry, and the other half are in more liquid pipeline investments. Thus, our investments fund infrastructure related to the transportation and distribution of oil and gas resources, and the college endowment benefits directly from the development of pipelines, refineries and oil and gas wells.

Considering that the college boasts service to society in its mission statement and asks students “to take responsibility for their personal, social and intellectual choices,” the fact that our investments support the oppression of communities and poisoning of our planet is hypocritical.

As the Trump administration moves to approve the construction of both Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, the student body needs to continue to question our institution’s role in perpetuating climate injustice. Due to the restrictive contracts for private partnerships, Macalester cannot disclose the companies involved in these partnerships, and the possibility remains that Macalester has contributed to the construction of contentious pipelines. Even without specifics, our investments make us complicit in the destruction of the environment and express a complete denial of indigenous peoples’ rights. The Board of Trustees has signaled to the Macalester community that our institution condones the unconscionable actions of the fossil fuel industry.

In this current political moment, institutions must speak out against the destruction of the environment and the disregard for human rights that pipeline construction represents.

Accordingly, as an organization committed to environmental justice via our campaign to divest the college from fossil fuels, Fossil Free Mac calls on the Board of Trustees not to renew these private limited partnerships or to invest in new ones.

If you would like to learn more about these oil and gas partnerships and hear about our evolving strategy in this new political moment, join Fossil Free Mac on Tuesday, February 21st from 4:45 to 6:00 p.m. in the Harmon Room for a teach-in. We will answer questions and hopefully find a spot for you in our campaign for climate justice.