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Sudan Divestment: MIT Not Invested In Worst Offenders

At this time, MIT does not have any investments in the top 20 companies deemed the “highest offenders” by the national Sudan Divestment Task Force, according to Secretary of the MIT Corporation Kirk D. Kolenbrander.

In May 2007, a statement was released by the MIT Corporation’s Executive Committee, announcing that the Institute would review “the securities portfolios over which it may exercise direct investment discretion and will divest as appropriate for those portfolios to exclude securities that would violate MIT’s investment principles.” Although Kolenbrander declined to comment on the exact nature of any divestments made, he did say that MIT does not have any holdings in the top 20 highest offenders and that “whatever changes were necessary … our investment managers moved promptly to make that happen … there’s no further work to be done there, as I understand it.”

Because Kolenbrander refused to provide more details on the exact nature of the divestments, it is not clear if MIT had holdings in any of these companies, many of which are in oil and power or energy sectors, before the spring’s statement.

Kolenbrander added, “We continually review our holdings and as the situation in the world changes, so too would our holdings.”

Bernard (Ben) A. Mares G, one of five MIT community members who met with Kolenbrander over the summer for updates on the divestment situation, said that Kolenbrander’s acknowledgement “is fabulous, since most schools only release a few names” of companies in which they choose not to hold investments.

Both Kolenbrander, Mares, and Mares’s colleagues agreed that the best way to update the MIT community on the divestment issue was through The Tech instead of a formal statement, although Kolenbrander said he was not able to articulate exactly why both he and the group decided on the method. Mares said that he does not “personally care how the statement comes out as long as MIT publicly acknowledges that they have divested from the offending companies.”

For more information on the companies listed as the top offenders, go to the Sudan Divestment Task Force’s Web site at http://www. sudandivestment.org/ to request a copy of the “Sudan Company Report.”

—Marie Y. Thibault