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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SUDAN pursues divestment

Published: November 4, 2005
Section: News

The Brandeis chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) is about to begin a major campus-wide campaign to convice Brandeis administration to divest its holdings from Sudan.

The aim of the campaign is to get Brandeis to get rid of all those assets that do business with Sudan said Daniel Millenson 09, the executive director of the campaign. Those assets in the endowment include hedge funds, stocks and other investments.

In addition to divestment, members of STAND are also interested in disinvestment, which means that Brandeis would refrain from investing in companies who do business with Sudan that we are not already doing business with, Millenson said.

The arm of STAND lobbying for Brandeis divestment has its own name – Students Uniting for Divestment Action Now, or SUDAN. Currently, SUDAN is preparing campaign plans and making contacts with other universities, said Millenson.

The SUDAN divestment campaign will be a huge effort, Millenson said. In addition to petition drives and op-eds in the student papers, SUDAN is trying to pass a student Senate resolution and a faculty Senate resolution, according to Millenson.

Weldon Kennedy 06, president of STAND, hopes the divestment campaign will let people know that we are interested in making sure that Brandeis is not involved in funding this genocide.

Harvard and Stanford Universities have divested from PetroChina and SinoPec, two Chinese oil companies that buy oil from the Sudanese, which then buy weapons with that money. Members of the divestment campaign would like to see Brandeis go further than that.

Our divestment model seeks to divest from all companies doing business with Sudan. If we do it first, it will be path-breaking, Millenson said. Once we do it here, it starts to have a chain reaction, like the apartheid campaign.

The members of SUDAN are taking cues from successful divestment campaigns. New Jersey, Oregon and Illinois have divested, and part of my job is to talk to everyone in those schools and states so they provide us with strategy and research help, Millenson said.

Their aims go beyond the campus — SUDAN is lobbying for divestiture at the state level, and they are working with the STAND chapters at Harvard and Tufts Universities to achieve this goal.

According to Millenson, divestment is a particularly effective method to end genocide and other atrocities because it gets at where the Sudanese government is most vulnerable. Because the United States has already placed other economic sanctions on Sudan, divestment is the only financial lever we have, Millenson said.

So often in a crisis people look to give money for relief efforts. But we also have to look at the other side of the equation and not give money to the people committing the genocide, Kennedy said.
Millenson sees the Brandeis divestment as more of a symbolic gesture because of the relatively small size of the Brandeis endowment. However, divestiture at schools like Brandeis is still important because of the precedent it sets. If we are able to convince those companies working in Sudan that it is not profitable to support a genocidal regime than we can cut off funding to governments sponsoring genocides, Kennedy said.

[Divestment is] not going to work if just Brandeis does it- it has to be a nationwide effort. It can affect universities with larger endowments. No one wants to be the last person to sell out of these companies, Millenson said.