Georgetown agreed Wednesday to refrain from investing in companies with operations in Sudan after almost three years of lobbying by the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition.
According to Hailey Flynn (SFS ’08), the organization began meeting with the university in the summer of 2005 to urge them to divest from companies that were either directly or indirectly supporting military operations in Sudan.
“We asked the investment office to not directly invest in the six major companies supporting the military campaigns in the region, and they agreed,” she said, noting that 70 to 80 percent of oil revenue in Sudan goes toward funding military operations.
University spokesperson Julie Bataille said that the university has never made these sorts of direct investments.
“Georgetown University does not have (and never has had) any direct investments in Sudan and will not make any direct investments in securities identified as questionable by the Sudan Divestment Task Force,” she said in an e-mail.
However, Flynn said that a nationwide financial shift toward investment in asset managers, who manage an institution’s portfolio by distributing funds to a conglomeration of companies, has made it necessary redefine the university’s position.
“Georgetown has never had direct investment in these companies. However, now with more asset managers, [Georgetown] could have in theory had investments with these companies,” Flynn said.
As of Wednesday, though, Flynn said the university told STAND it has spoken to its asset managers and ensured them the university will be completely divested from Sudan.
Flynn stressed, though, that divestment is not enough by itself. It is important, she said, to adopt a multifaceted approach that takes both direct and indirect steps to alleviate suffering in the region.
“We use the Sudan divestment task force model, [which] uses a gauge to determine worst offenders – those that provide the highest benefits to government and virtually no advantages to the people,” Flynn said. “We do a couple of events each year to fund specific projects in Darfur. A direct approach can certainly be taken, but it has to be multifaceted.”
Bataille added that the university is serious about its commitment to ensure its actions do not contribute to further violence in the region.
“As the situation in Darfur marks the first time in history that the United States government has classified a conflict as genocide, it is Georgetown’s view that companies operating in Sudan have an obligation to ensure that their business activities do not inadvertently or indirectly contribute to the violence,” Bataille said.