Students Pressure UC to Sever Ties with Genocide-aiding Corps

Students sat in York Hall on Jan. 12 ready to commit to a cause that is over 8,000 miles away. Some winced at documentary footage of genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur, while others jeered at politicians who denied the killings. But almost all applauded the UC Board of Regents’ consideration to sever ties with companies doing business with the Sudanese government.

Student presence at last week’s event was the antithesis of apathy, according to UC Divestment Task Force member Anya Sorin.

“Students are concerned about this,” she said. “It’s a topic that we can all be concerned about as humans, not just as students.”

The task force sponsored the screening of the BBC documentary, beginning a week of events at UCSD that the group hopes can convince the regents to approve divestment. The UC Board of Regents will meet on Jan. 19 at Price Center to discuss the topic. The task force plans on more events in the coming week, including a rally in Price Center, as the regents mull their decision.

In December, the task force presented UC Senior Vice President of Business and Finance Joe Mullinix a 220-page analysis on the routes to Sudan divestment. In the analysis, the group reported that the UC has almost $132 million of investments in eight companies doing business with Sudan’s government.

By pulling out investment funds, the university can apply pressure on government-sponsored genocide in Sudan, Sorin said.

“Without money or financial support, the killing in Sudan can finally stop,” she said. “It’s a simple thing to do, and we hope the regents can see that.”

Stripping all ties with a certain country is not as simple as it seems, according to UCOP spokesman Trey Davis. The UC Office of the President did not return calls for comment, but Davis spoke on the topic in October.

“We don’t invest in companies, we invest in funds that have in their mix a variety of companies,” he told UCLA’s Daily Bruin. “The mechanism is not … straightforward.”

If the divestment is approved, the UC would follow in the footsteps of universities across the nation, including Stanford and Harvard. However, the UC task force is proposing a full divestment from Sudan, while Stanford and Harvard only cut investment in bonds of certain companies. The UC Board of Regents has divested from companies because of social concerns before, including a financial separation from the South African government because of its apartheid policy in the 1980s. But that decision will have no bearing on the board’s decision concerning Sudan, Davis said.

“If you organize, you can change things,” said Lako Tongun, a UC Davis alumnus and Sudanese native.

Tongun spoke at the task force’s screening about his participation in the student movement that requested UC divestment from South Africa.

“Students can mobilize the rest of America to do something,” he said.

Readers can contact Charles Nguyen at [email protected].