Rally for Divestment
The Harvard Crimson
By CANDICE N. PLOTKIN
Friday, February 25, 2005
In a candlelight vigil last night, students
from across the Boston area gathered to call for divestment, both
by their colleges and the state of Massachusetts, from companies
tied to the genocidal government of Sudan.
Speakers at the rally, which was organized
by the American Anti-Slavery group, cited ongoing atrocities in
Sudan and also highlighted new cross-campus efforts to fight such
crimes, including the recent Senior Gift Plus movement started
by Brandon M. Terry ‘05 and Matthew W. Mahan ‘05 on
Terry, who spoke at the rally, said that
he was speaking on behalf of Harvard students who are disappointed
over the University’s investment in PetroChina, a company
connected to the Darfur government.
“The Harvard model is ‘Veritas,’”
Terry said. “Not just ‘Mom I broke the cookie jar’
truth—it stands for moral truth. But you have to put your
money where your mouth is, and right now, Harvard’s money
is where genocide is.”
As of Dec. 31, 2004, Harvard owned 67,200
shares in the oil company.
Benjamin B. Collins ’06, an original
organizer of the divestment movement, said University President
Lawrence H. Summers met with him to discuss Harvard’s position,
he has yet to receive an official response since their meeting
While Harvard has yet to take a final stance
on the divestment issue, many in the greater Boston area are pushing
Yesterday, Massachusetts state senator
Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. announced that he will file legislation
in March requiring the Commonwealth to divest its pension funds
from international companies doing business with Sudan.
He said he was inspired to take action
following a meeting with Williams College students seeking divestment,
who were partly inspired by similar efforts at Harvard.
According to Jesse A. Sage ’98, associate
director of the American Anti-Slavery group, $1.4 billion of the
Massachusetts Pension fund has already been invested in companies
doing business in Sudan.
The divestment movement is drawing in local
leaders, such as Jeffrey Ryan, who was named Teacher of the Year
Ryan said at the rally that he was stunned
when he learned that part of his retirement fund was invested
in companies doing business in Sudan. “I want my hands washed
clean of the blood and rape occurring in the Sudan,” Ryan
“To see all these individuals speak
out in opposition to the silence of Harvard is very frustrating
to me,” said Matthew M. Mulder ’05 after the rally.
“I think Harvard owes the students who signed the petition
and who are withholding their senior gift at the very least an
explanation for why they are not divesting.”
Harvard-Radcliffe Amnesty International
Co-coordinator Sabine J. Ronc ’07 called for Harvard students
to engage in letter-writing campaigns, sign petitions and join
an emerging coalition sponsored by the Black Men’s Forum,
Harvard African Students’ Association, and Hillel to protest
atrocities in the Darfur region.
“When you go see a movie like Hotel
Rwanda you can’t leave that movie unaffected,” said
Ronc. “Yet many people turn off the television and go on
with their lives. This is our chance to actually do something.”