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Genocide and Complacency: A Deadly Combination

In early September, nearly a year after universities such as Harvard and Stanford divested from Sudan in response to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, President Hockfield convened the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility to begin discussing MIT's potential divestment. In response, student movements began both supporting and opposing divestment. Petitions were drafted for each side, with 499 supporting divestment and 94 against it. The divestment issue was hotly debated at both the UA and GSC meetings, resulting in the passage of a resolution by both groups supporting institute wide targeted-divestment by December 31, 2006. A coalition of student groups collaborated to organize a lecture by internationally renowned Sudan expert, Professor Eric Reeves, to help raise awareness in prelude to a divestment decision by the ACSR. Letters both in support and against divestment appeared in The Tech, as well as several front page articles discussing the divestment movement and the overwhelming response by the MIT community.

And what has been the response by the MIT administration? Apparently, absolutely nothing. Even after six months of meeting, the ACSR still has not published their initial reports on divestment and has instead, even to the chagrin of a few of its own members, taken a three month hiatus. This has occurred in spite of the fact that at their previous meeting the committee was presented with both the divestment petition, and the GSC and UA resolutions asking for divestment before the end of 2006. Their response: a three month recess before their next meeting in March. This unresponsiveness is only compounded by the fact that while MIT has been dragging its feet, 30 other colleges and universities have already divested from Sudan in response to the horrors in Darfur, with Harvard's ACSR publishing its report on divestment in April 2005, almost two years ago. One would think that given the gravity and urgency of the topic being discussed, namely genocide, such complacency would not be allowed.

As members of the MIT community, we take great pride in our Institute and hold MIT to a high standard. We feel strongly that MIT can do better than this. We urge the ACSR and the administration to display the sort of leadership and diligence that are hallmarks of our Institute and resolve the divestment issue with no further delays. As a recent GSC letter states, "MIT is neither a democracy nor an autocracy. Shared governance depends on students, faculty, administrators agreeing on a course of action and administrators then implementing that course of action." We the students, faculty and staff of MIT have done our part to make our voices heard. We now simply hope that the administration is listening.

Kayvan Zainabadi G

Elizabeth Clay G

Christopher Sequeira G

Roberto Perez-Franco G

Luke Thompson G

Sarah Johnstone G

Erik D. Fogg '09