Students protest against CMC directors’ investments in fossil fuels

Protesters at Claremont McKenna College are calling for the names of Henry Kravis and George Roberts to be removed from school buildings. (Nanako Noda • Student life)

Chants of “Remove Their Names” rang out outside the Roberts Pavilion at Claremont McKenna College Tuesday night as more than 100 5C students protested against Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ acquisition of a stake in Sempra Energy on October 1. denouncing the natural gas pipes that crisscross aboriginal lands.

KKR is a global investment group founded by CMC’s trustees and cousins, George Roberts CM ’66 and Henry Kravis CM ’67. Together they have donate Following over $ 100 million at CMC, and are recognized campus-wide with buildings of the same name like the Roberts Pavilion and the Kravis Center.

Protesters claim KKR’s fossil fuel holdings undermine indigenous land rights and contribute to the current climate crisis.

KKR’s business interests are “genocidal investments … [that] illegally cross indigenous territory without consent, ”Ethan Vitaz PZ ’22 said in a speech Tuesday evening. “That’s why we’re hosting here today.

The 5C student protest was staged as part of a joint effort between student activist groups KKR Kills and Divest 5Cs, which are calling for the names of Kravis and Roberts to be removed from campus buildings and for the revocation of their college administrator positions.

“Henry Kravis and George Roberts are valued members of the CMC Board of Directors,” CMC spokesperson Gilien Silsby said via email. “We will not remove the Kravis or Roberts names from CMC buildings or programs. ”

Stop the 5Cs aims to see each of the 5Cs divest from investments in fossil fuels, as a result of Head of Pitzer College in 2014. KKR Kills was founded in response to KKR’s decision of December 2019 acquisition a 65% stake in Coastal GasLink, of which the pipelines cross the traditional lands of the Wet’suwet’en.

Supporters in Canada have taken a stand solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en as disputes continue over the construction of the CGL pipeline on their traditional lands without the full consent of the Wet’suwet’en.

“CGL has signed community and project agreements with the 20 elected First Nations governments along the approved route, including elected representatives of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation,” said the KKR spokesperson, Cara Major, by email.

Major acknowledged that although some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs “signaled their opposition to the project,” CGL continued to consult with them.

Although a open letter academics across British Columbia have criticized the threat Coastal GasLink operations pose to Indigenous artifacts, Major said CGL has worked “to integrate [Wet’suwet’en] if possible, and take care of sensitive landscapes and culturally and historically important areas along the route.

In April, KKR has started the process of acquiring a 20% stake in Sempra Energy for approximately $ 3.4 billion, a agreement that was finalized this month.

IE Nova, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, developed the Aguaprieta pipeline as part of a larger project that transports natural gas from Arizona to the northern states of Mexico, Sonora and Sinaloa.

A proposed section of the Aguaprieta pipeline would cut 11 miles through Loma de Bácum, a Yaqui town in Sonora that opposes its construction. Construction of the pipeline has divided Yaqui communities over whether to support or reject the pipeline.

“Although KKR has a relationship with Sempra Infrastructure Partners, the part of the Aguaprieta pipeline system disputed by members of the Yaqui community is excluded from KKR ownership,” Major said, adding that “part of the Aguaprieta pipeline does not is not operational while consultations between the Mexican government and affected communities are ongoing.

Isabella Garcia PZ ’24 has Yaqui blood in her family. After learning of KKR’s investments in the Aguaprieta pipeline, she said, the KKR Kills movement has struck near her home.

“I really tried to come to terms with the fact that I go to institutions that contribute to these terrible things… I’m just trying to grapple with it. “—Isabella Garcia PZ ’24

“I really tried to come to terms with the fact that I go to the institutions that contribute to these terrible things,” Garcia said. “I’m just trying to grapple with this.”

Like other protesters, Garcia said she would like “open communication” about the roles of CMC administrators in college and in the world at large. It “would be a good start for sure,” she said.

KKR Kills organizer Malcolm McCann PZ ’22 is hoping to see KKR withdraw its investments from fossil fuels and other “companies that infringe indigenous rights” and “commit these types of evil colonial violence”, in response to demands from the public. activists, McCann said.

Since helping organize the protest, McCann has been in contact with the Yaqui community in Loma de Bácum, which has resisted the pipeline for more than a decade, he said.

In 2016, Loma de Bácum’s environmental attorney, Anabela Carlón Flores, challenged the legality of the Aguaprieta pipeline in court, causing pipeline operations to pause as consultations between the local community and the Mexican government continued. continue.

In a Facebook post On Tuesday evening, Carlón Flores expressed his gratitude for the recent demonstration at the Roberts Pavilion.

“We want to see CMC act and hold Kravis and Roberts accountable if they don’t do the right thing,” McCann added.

Malcolm McCann speaks into a megaphone.
Malcolm McCann PZ ’22 addresses the protesters. (Nanako Noda • Student life)

Major noted that KKR is “committed to investing in a sustainable energy transition” and is the seventh largest investor in solar stocks in the United States.

But Peter Dien CM ’25, who led his first year of the presidential campaign largely on KKR’s investment awareness, said KKR’s solar investments do not offset his objections to the company’s actions.

“If you still oppress indigenous people… you can’t balance that out by doing something right,” Dien said.

In his exhortation to step aside, Dien drew on his experience as a QuestBridge scholar.

“It is not that we are asking them not to give us any more money, it is that we are asking that this money not be financed at the expense of the oppression of indigenous peoples,… [the] land, land and the oppression of our future. “- Peter Dien CM ’25

“It’s not that we are asking them not to give us any more money, it is that we are asking that this money not be financed at the expense of the oppression of indigenous peoples,… [the] land, land and the oppression of our future, ”he said in his speech at the protest.

Dien urged the students to continue the fight against the development of fossil fuels.

“The question [to CMC] Do we want to be on the right side of history? ” He asked. “And the question [to the community] do you want to be part of this story?

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