Queen's sells stocks to help fight genocide in Sudan

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Queen’s University is the first Canadian university to divest from oil companies who provide revenue to the Sudanese government.

Queen’s follows in the footsteps of U.S. universities like Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth and Brown, which all recently divested.

Divestment is the selling of investments for non-financial reasons and is generally motivated by moral or political concerns about particular investments. In this case, divestment refers to selling stock in companies conducting business with Sudan’s government.

Queen’s Board of Trustees divested its pooled and endowment funds of PetroChina and China Petroleum. The board’s pension committee also divested.

The decision was made after Queen’s chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) presented to Queen’s principal Karen Hitchcock.

Ira Goldstein, a Queen’s student and national chair of divestment for STAND Canada, said Hitchcock supported the group’s initiative and it was taken to a Board of Trustees meeting March 2, where a resolution was passed.

“A lot of us thought this would get caught up in the Queen’s bureaucracy and that nothing would happen,” Goldstein said.

Hitchcock said in a press release,“This is an opportunity for the university to demonstrate that issues of global justice are important to us.

“We applaud our students and faculty who became engaged in this matter and our Board of Trustees for taking such action. There was a strong consensus around this action.”

Goldstein said the divestment not only aids Sudanese citizens, but helps raise awareness about the atrocities occurring in Darfur.

“I have high hopes that other schools will see Queen’s as an example and follow suit,” Goldstein said. “I’m hoping for a domino effect.”

The Canadian chapter of STAND has nine divestment representatives at Canadian universities.

According to STAND Western president Michelle Kudlats, the group made a presentation urging Western to divest to Western’s Campus and Community Affairs Committee last March.

The group had over 1,000 student signatures and Kudlats said the presentation was well-received. However, STAND Western has yet to hear anything.

Goldstein hopes Western will see Queen’s decision to divest and feel pressured to do the same.

Gitta Kulczycki, Western’s VP-resources and operations, said due to discussions that took place after STAND’s presentation last year, Western decided not to divest from certain companies.

She added Western doesn’t have a specific policy on ethics and investments and it would be difficult to create one since not everyone would agree on whose ethics to follow.

Kudlats said STAND Western will continue urging Western to divest.

“Divesting from these companies would send a message to the companies, the government of Sudan and all Western students that Western doesn’t support genocide and the atrocities being committed in Darfur,” Kudlats said.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette