A series of events centered on the issue of human rights this week drew Yale students interested in increasing the freedoms afforded to citizens around the world.
Organized by member groups of the Social Justice Network, which operates out of Dwight Hall, the events included a divestment campaign, film screenings, and canvassing on Cross Campus. The Yale chapters of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the Reproductive Student Rights Action League of Yale College and the Yale Falun Gong Club were involved in the week’s events.
Tiffany Wan ’07, co-coordinator of the Yale chapter of Amnesty International, said that while the various organizations involved in Human Rights Week have gotten together to address specific issues, this is the first time they have collaborated for a week-long event.
“We want to raise issues that might affect people in the U.S. as well as those removed from people at Yale,” she said.
STAND launched an online divestment petition last night pushing for Yale to divest from companies that do business in Sudan, STAND co-chair Eric Bloom ’08 said. The petition, which will be sent to the Yale Corporation and Provost Andrew Hamilton, has already been signed by over 100 people.
While American corporations cannot invest in Sudan, Bloom said, multinational corporations have no such restriction. Although STAND is not positive that the University is invested in such corporations, Bloom said, recent announcements by Harvard and Stanford universities that they will divest from Sudan suggest Yale may be invested as well.
“It’s possible that the endowment is invested in multinational corporations that do business in Sudan,” he said. “[Divestment] is something we believe can be done, especially in light of what other universities have done.”
The Yale chapter of the ACLU screened two movies as part of a film festival to highlight civil liberties issues. Two films were screened on Tuesday evening: “Unconstitutional,” focusing the Patriot Act, and “I Can’t Marry You,” addressing the issue of gay marriage.
Jason Blau ’08, acting chair of the Yale ACLU, said he thinks events like Human Rights Week not only start campus dialogue about important issues, but also make students feel more comfortable with campus culture.
“It is important that people on campus know we are working to defend their rights,” he said.
Emily Jones ’06, who serves as the liaison between the Social Justice Network and Dwight Hall, said she hopes this week’s activities increase student involvement in SJN member groups.
“I think that one of the most direct ways to get involved in big issues is to get involved with groups centered around certain issues,” she said.
Human Rights Week will end tonight with a screening of “Sandstorm”, a film that depicts the persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong, a controversial Chinese spiritual movement. The screening is a joint effort between Amnesty International and the Yale Falun Gong Club.