Staff Editorial: Let's commit Macalester's good name, good will to ending Sudanese genocide

By The Mac Weekly Staff

On Tuesday, Macalester College Student Government’s legislative body will vote on a resolution to require divestment of endowment funds from companies whose practices enable the Sudanese government to continue committing genocide. We urge the legislative body to approve the resolution.The proposal, co-authored by Sandy Robson ’08, has the ardent support of MCSG President Franz Meyer ’09 and the tentative blessing of President Brian Rosenberg. The College’s Social Responsibility Committee, which will make the final decision about divestment, will be watching the vote closely. Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre has indicated that she will regard the vote as a student referendum on divestment.

It’s worth noting that only one company in our portfolio, representing only $75,000 of endowment investment, has been identified for complicity in the Sudanese genocide. But if the financial stakes are low, the moral stakes couldn’t be higher. Shrinking into an individualistic frame accomplishes nothing.

The proposal is not without its detractors. At last Tuesday’s legislative body meeting, one Financial Affairs Commission member went so far as to suggest that divestment from Sudan would open the door to divestment for grievances as minor as undermining small businesses.

Nonsense. The Sudanese genocide is unquestionably the greatest humanitarian crisis facing the world today. Comparing it to such minor cases is at best flippant, at worst gravely offensive.

Opponents ask: If Macalester divests from companies working with the Sudanese government, what companies won’t we divest from? Shouldn’t decisions concerning the endowment emphasize financing our education?

We reply: If Macalester doesn’t respond to the world’s need in the face of the most egregious war crimes of our day, what kind of education are we getting? Education doesn’t occur in some privileged, ahistorical, escapist world devoid of systems of oppression, genocide, war, rape and environmental devastation. As a learning community, we are called to hear and to end the injustice we encounter in our world.

We have the opportunity to commit the good name and good will of Macalester College to working to end this genocide. We know from the fall of apartheid in South Africa that college and university divestment movements can play a key role in transnational activism to shame repressive governments and promote human rights.

We can do our part. Let’s.

The opinions expressed above are those of The Mac Weekly, as determined by the staff. The perspectives are not representative of Macalester College.