Western should take a STAND on Darfur

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

April 3, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Queen’s University made a bold move last week, becoming the first Canadian school to divest from companies connected to the Sudanese government and the genocide occurring in Darfur.

Students Taking Action Now: Darfur has been pushing universities across Canada to eliminate investments with ties to Sudan.

Money talks, and Queen’s has taken a leadership role in protesting what the Sudanese government is doing. The bottom line is the most important factor for any company. All the protest and awareness campaigns in the world would never have the same impact as attacking purse strings.

Queen’s might also be opening the gates for other universities to follow suit.

Queen’s has sent the message it won’t support any company linked to the atrocities going on in Darfur. It’s tackling a difficult issue and it must consider where they transfer their investments.

If it invests in companies in China, an emerging economic powerhouse filled with investment opportunities, is Queen’s money now supporting China’s government and its checkered human rights record?

By pulling out of one morally questionable investment, Queen’s needs to decide what other investments it will avoid.

It’s difficult to gauge where the ethical line must be drawn. Schools won’t remove all investments connected with anything potentially negative, especially not all at once. Still, it’s a good start to move away from areas where blatant offences are happening.

Change will occur slowly; it’s taken STAND a long time to reach this point. People are less likely to support a cause that won’t provide instant gratification. It’s important to recognize results won’t appear right away. Continued support is essential to make a long-term difference.

Last year, STAND Western made a presentation urging administration here to divest from companies involved in Sudan.

Western hasn’t shown interest in moving towards divestment. It’s hard to believe the school would intentionally avoid a definitive political stance; Western granted an honorary degree to Dr. Henry Morgentaler two years ago. It may not have intended to make a statement by doing so, but it’s clear it took a stance on abortion, a topic much more contentious than genocide. Why then, would it not take a stance on Darfur?

Western, like other universities, is a community leader in thought and should be the vanguard on issues like Darfur.

If Western doesn’t divest from companies linked to genocide in Darfur, it should admit money is the reason.

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