Open Letter to the SRC

Open Letter to the SRC

To the Social Responsibility Committee (SRC),

We, members of the Macalester College Student Government (MCSG), are writing this letter to demonstrate our support for the Fossil Free Macalester (FFM) proposal to the Board of Trustees of Macalester College to denounce Line 3, to divest from Enbridge Energy in protest of the Line 3 oil pipeline expansion project and to strive for financial transparency with the Macalester community. As representatives of the student body, we encourage the members of the Social Responsibility Committee (SRC) to seriously consider the FFM Proposal and to recommend speedy adoption of the proposal to the board of trustees.

Over the last nine years, MCSG has repeatedly called on the college to cease investing in the fossil fuel industry. During the 2012-13 academic year, the Legislative Body passed a resolution urging the college to “explore socially and fiscally responsible divestment from the fossil fuel industry.” A later resolution passed in the 2016-17 academic year demanded a “moratorium on private oil and gas partnerships in order to divorce our endowment from direct funding of fossil fuel infrastructure.” Most recently, MCSG included a referendum on the College’s private investments in fossil fuels on its 2019 General Election ballots in which 96% of respondents voted to divest from fossil fuels. While these calls have historically been focused on private partnerships, we implore you to strongly support the three demands of FFM to divest from public partnerships as well.

In solidarity with FFM, we are calling on you to continue listening to and supporting student voices and call on the Board of Trustees to publicly denounce and divest from the construction of Line 3. As stated in the FFM proposal, the construction of Line 3 is a direct violation of Indigenous treaty rights in Northern Minnesota and, given Enbridge’s history of oil spills — 804 between 1999 and 2010 — Line 3 poses a direct threat to Indigenous bodies due to the temporarily erected man camps, ways of life and some of the most pristine natural areas in Minnesota. Denouncing and divesting from Enbridge Energy would, in the words of FFM, “amplify an Indigenous-led movement within our state, raising awareness about the harms the pipeline is causing and demonstrating meaningful solidarity.” Additionally, denouncing and divesting from Line 3 and Enbridge Energy would bring Macalester closer in alignment with its purported values of climate, environmental and racial justice.

We are also calling on the SRC to recommend that the Board of Trustees implement transparency regarding its fiduciary responsibilities and investments. Following the student referendum on divestment in 2019, the Board of Trustees made the decision to allow private partnerships in fossil fuel companies to expire and to evaluate future fossil fuel private partnerships if the investment was reasonably likely to result in a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. While MCSG appreciates the steps the college has taken, the absence of any mention of publicly-traded partnerships during the original FFM divestment proposal seems to have been an effort to secure Macalester’s image as a leader in climate justice while avoiding taking all of the possible steps to fully divest Macalester’s assets. Such an absence of mention hinders students’ abilities to advocate effectively, to trust institutional bodies and to create sustainable policies. Such hindrances elevate the need for increased transparency regarding Macalester’s investments and fiscal policies. 

Ayana Smith-Kooiman ’22, Linden Kronberg ’22, Eric Yu ’24, Karsten Beling ’22 and Diana Paz Garcia ’21 — on behalf of MCSG and as representatives of the student body — ask the SRC to recommend the FFM proposal to the Board of Trustees. As the decision-makers and leaders for Macalester College, tasked with creating an institution that values service to society, that recognizes climate change as “a defining issue of our time” and that inculcates these values to its students, we ask the Board of Trustees to adopt this FFM proposal in order to divest quickly and efficiently from Enbridge Energy and other publicly-traded partnerships that support the construction of Line 3; to stand with Indigenous communities and respect their treaty rights; to protect the environment; and to bring Macalester into closer alignment with its community values.

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