Braving the bitter cold, about 60 Yale faculty and students gathered at Beinecke Plaza on Thursday to call on University officials to divest from corporations tied to Sudan.
The rally — the latest in a series of activities organized by Students Taking Action Now: Darfur — comes one day after the Yale College Council passed a resolution similarly insisting that the University divest from companies found to have invested in the Sudanese government. Today STAND plans to present Yale President Richard Levin with a petition signed by more than 1,400 members of the Yale community.
It is unclear how much Yale may have invested in corporations that do business in Sudan, said Nick Robinson LAW ’06, who conducts research for the Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic at the Law School. The clinic is working to produce a report with Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, the body that is responsible for ensuring that the University’s investments comply with ethical guidelines adopted by the University in the 1970s.
“We approached the ACIR and we asked them about our ongoing concerns with the Sudan,” Robinson said. “We wanted to figure out what corporations are there and what they are doing there. Oil companies are probably the biggest concern.”
Robinson said that some of the most troublesome corporations that do business with the Sudanese government are PetroChina and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, an Indian energy company.
Geert Rouwenhorst, chairman of the ACIR and a professor at the School of Management, said that the report is “in a very advanced stage” but could not comment further on its nature.
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said she is glad to see student involvement in the issue, but the University’s investments will be guided by the ACIR report.
“We appreciate student and community involvement on this matter, which is of such great importance to the world,” she said in an e-mail.
The speakers at the rally included Yale faculty members David Simon, Eric Worby and Adam Jones. All three spoke out against the primarily Arab-controlled Sudanese government and its actions towards the non-Arab residents of Darfur, a western region of Sudan.
STAND co-coordinator Lauren Jacobson ’08 said that although the University has been sympathetic to the Darfur crisis, she thinks it should match its support with action.
“[The University] has expressed concern about this issue,” she said. “We want them to act as soon as possible. We are rallying student support for them to take action.”
Two other universities with large endowments, Harvard University and Stanford University, committed to divesting from corporations doing business in Sudan last year. Harvard annaounced that it would divest in April 2005, while Stanford followed suit shortly thereafter in June.