The Yale College Council passed a resolution at a meeting Wednesday evening calling on Yale to divest from companies with ties to the Sudanese government.
The resolution, which passed in a 20-3 vote following an open discussion and debate among YCC members, asks the Yale Corporation to investigate its status as an investor in multinational corporations allegedly linked to Sudan. If investments in such companies are found, the resolution asks that Yale compel these firms to in turn pressure the Sudanese government to improve its humanitarian conditions and then divest if these corporations are resistant.
Yale President Richard Levin said in a November interview with the News that the University will divest from any company if the Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility recommends such a course of action.
“If the committee recommended divestment, the University would take action,” Levin said. “If that’s what the Corporation Committee recommends, the Investment Office will not make any future investments in Sudan.”
Yale has the ability to effect change in Sudan and should do so, said YCC Representative Andrew Steinberg ’08, who introduced the resolution.
“The situation in Sudan is currently the most pressing human rights issue,” Steinberg said. “Yale should use its leverage to help the government stop genocide.”
Eric Bloom ’08, head of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, said he thinks this issue should be a top priority for Yale.
“We’re talking about a grave, one-sided issue that we should take a stand on,” Bloom said. “This is something we need to care about because we are all investors in Yale and it is possible that our money is going to multinational corporations that might be perpetuating genocide in Sudan.”
But YCC Representative Govind Rangrass ’08 said that although he agrees with the sentiments of the resolution, he voted against it because he does not think the YCC is an appropriate forum for students to take political stances.
“This resolution is an issue for individual Yale students to act on, not the YCC to speak on their behalves,” Rangrass said. “I cannot take it upon myself to say that I represent how everyone in Davenport feels about this.”
The resolution also calls upon Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility to develop recommendations for a corporate policy on genocide.
An earlier version of the resolution contained a third clause that called for the YCC to co-sponsor and publicize informational events, which the Council voted to remove from the final resolution.
Steinberg said he thinks the inclusion of this clause would have garnered stronger student support.
“The more pressure in favor of divestment from Sudan, the more likely it is for Yale to act quicker to actually engage Sudanese government,” he said.
But YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 said the council was not comfortable with the advertising and events promoted by the clause.
“I believe they thought [the clause] was outside of what the YCC is supposed to do,” Syverud said. “It falls more into the range of what an activist would do.”
YCC Secretary Kasdin Miller ’07 said she opposed the third clause because its inclusion might have forced the council to relinquish some measure of control over the student divestment actions in which it participates.
“We would have no way of ensuring that the other organizations that we would cosponsor events with would stay within the confines of the resolution,” she said. “It had the potential to put YCC in a compromising situation.”
Although he could not vote on the resolution, Syverud said he supports it.
“The point of the resolution wasn’t us making a pronouncement on international economics, but putting pressure on our own Yale community,” he said. “I think it’s within our scope.”
Other students on campus have also pressured the University to divest from companies that invest in Sudan. In November, the Yale chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur launched an online divestment petition that collected more than 690 signatures from members of the Yale community.