Shell Senior Manager Olav Ljosne Awarded a Middlebury College Honorary Degree
The Dalai Lama Welcoming Committee just had the great honor of bestowing upon the College’s guest, Olav Ljosne, a senior manager of Shell involved in covering up human rights abuses in Nigeria, an honorary degree. We thanked him in front of a capacity audience at the Robert A. Jones House on campus, but unfortunately, our video of the event was accidentally deleted – just like Shell’s human rights abuses were deleted from his talk. While we sadly can’t present this to you in multimedia form, our actions at the event continue on in the constructive dialogue sparked on campus. In our presentation, we stated:
“The global community has seen how effective you have been in justifying human rights violations such as using deadly force to repress a growing movement in protest of Shell. By offering employment and scholarships to Nigerians, you have reframed Shell’s impact on indigenous people as one of opportunity rather than mass destruction – an unbelievable task! Middlebury has recently been accused of investing unethically (in companies like Shell). So we look to you now, more than ever, as we try to restore our reputation without actually changing our practices. We hope you accept this degree and take this opportunity to inform us of how we can continue to prioritize profits over human and planetary life.”
Our satirical presentation this afternoon highlights contradictions and hypocrisies while also offering the possibility for aligning our actions with our values. Currently, our endowment investing strategy values profit over life – profit over the lives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other protesters in Nigeria who the Shell-financed government hanged for opposing Shell’s environmental, social, and cultural destruction of the Niger Delta. Rather than investing in companies that finance “kill and go” squads in Nigeria, we can challenge our administrators to implement more ethical investing practices.
We say Not A Dollar More if it goes to companies like Shell, Not A Dollar More if it Goes to War.