June 8, 2005

The Stone Starts Rolling

Last week the ACIR approved a resolution by a vote of 9 in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention. The resolution can be obtained from Dartmouth's Office of Public Affairs.
The report section of the resolution consists of a statement explaining the situation in Darfur, a review of the ACIR's mission and right to reccomend divestment, a review of two previous instances in which Dartmouth has divested and policy and precedent established at that time, and a summary of the Darfur Action Group's petition and efforts.

During the final deliberations, myself, Kelsey Noonan '08, and Anne Bellows '06 were present as representatives of DAG, and Professor Nelson Kasfir was in attendance as an expert on Sudan.

The resolution has four parts (paraphrased below):
1. The ACIR acknowledges and shares the concerns of the student body and DAG regarding mass murder in Khartoum, which has been labeled genocide by Congress, and condemns these activities.
2. ACIR recommends Dartmouth take steps as a shareholder to influence corporations in Sudan to pressure the government to discontinue genocide and take action to support the victims.
3. ACIR recommends that Dartmouth neither acquire nor retain ownership in publicly traded companies that are directly complicit in genocidal activities in Darfur, or whose involvment in Sudan directly and substantially supports the ability to conduct those activities.
4. ACIR will work with DAG and others to prepare a factual report for the Board of Trustees, including specific recommendations regarding intiatives to be taken as stockholders and divestiture of companies from the College portfolio.

This is a great step for Dartmouth, as one of the first colleges to have made this decision. Stanford's Advisory Panel on Investor Responsibility has reached a similar conclusion in the past week, and Harvard is considering further action. There are campaigns at Swarthmore, Williams, and many other peer institutions. Divestment bills have been passed in NJ, IL, and VT, and there are pending efforts in a dozen other states. Divestment is becoming more widespread.
As divestment campaigns build, more and more institutions will take action, raising the level of public awareness and political pressure on the US government, the UN, and even Khartoum, to bring about the military and humanitarian intervention that could save hundreds of thousands of lives.

The ACIR decision will go to the Board of Trustees in September, when the Board's Investment Committee will meet. On the basis of the 1988 Trustees Policy "Concerning the Use of the College's Endowmen to Express Institutional Positions on Political and Social Issues," which state that "maximization of return... should not be the sole criterion for the management of Dartmouth's capital resources," the DAG expects the ACIR's reccomendations to be put in effect.

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