Student leaders have condemned Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s decision to accept a $300,000 contribution over 20 years from Kinder Morgan if its Trans Mountain pipeline twinning proceeds.
The Kwantlen Student Association said it opposes the agreement that would see the pipeline company give about $15,000 a year in scholarships for trades and technology students.
“KPU’s acceptance of this money amounts to a tacit endorsement of the pipeline project,” said KSA vice-president Alex McGowan, adding the pipeline poses “unacceptable risks” and would contribute to the accleration of climate change.
Students say they weren’t consulted and the move makes a mockery of the university’s commitment to sustainability and the aboriginal group for which it is named.
“KPU students want nothing to do with this project,” added KSA president Allison Gonzalez. “We are shocked at this agreement.”
KPU academic vice-president Salvador Ferreras said Tuesday the money would aid students pursuing jobs in industry and said he had no ethical qualms about the agreement, insisting KPU wasn’t taking a position on the pipeline.
Alumni are also speaking out.
“I have never been so embarrassed to be a Kwantlen grad,” said Justine Nelson.
“Many consider this type of ‘generosity’ to be a bribe,” she said. “While the university states it has no stance on the pipeline, it has a duty to consider the effects this expansion will have, and not succumb to Kinder Morgan’s attempts to buy support of local communities.”
The Kwantlen First Nation, KPU’s namesake, is an intervenor before the National Energy Board opposing the pipeline expansion.
Spokesman Brandon Gabriel Kwelexwecten said the deal “flies in the face” of KPU pledges to closely collaborate with the first nation.
Trans Mountain is pursuing benefits agreements with various municipalities and post-secondary institutions. So far Thompson Rivers University is the only other school to have accepted one.
All the benefits agreements are contingent on the pipeline being approved.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University provost and academic vice-president Salvador Ferreras, with Kinder Morgan’s Lizette Parsons Bell at Tuesday’s announcement of company contributions if the Trans Mountain pipeline is approved. Jeff Nagel photo