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UConn Foundation takes steps to divest from Darfur

by Sherry Fisher - March 26, 2007

The UConn Foundation will formally request that its investment managers withdraw funds invested in the Sudan, where hundreds of thousands have died as a result of a genocide campaign, and some 2.5 million have been displaced.

The move followed a presentation to the Foundation Board of Directors by members of the UConn chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND).

Students from STAND held a protest rally Feb. 28 outside the Foundation building, urging the withdrawal of funds invested in companies in Sudan.

Approximately $1.5 million of the Foundation’s $300 million endowment is invested in companies engaged in business there.

On March 8, student representatives from the group were invited by the investment committee of the Foundation Board of Directors to present information and discuss divestment from companies whose activities in the Darfur region of Sudan are seen as potentially abetting human rights violations.

The committee unanimously approved the following actions: Foundation investment managers will be asked to consider divestment from companies on the watch list maintained by the Sudan Divestment Task Force; “Sudan-free” will be added to the list of criteria considered when making decisions on hiring future investment managers; the manager of the Foundation’s sole non-commingled fund will be formally directed to divest from and make no new investments in any company on the list maintained by the Sudan Divestment Task Force, part of the international Genocide Intervention Network.

“After careful consideration, the committee determined that it was appropriate at this time and consistent with our investment mandate for the Foundation to take these steps,” said John Martin, president of The University of Connecticut Foundation Inc.

“These decisions reflect the Foundation’s concern about the unique humanitarian crisis in the Sudan; are well aligned with the Foundation’s fiduciary responsibilities to the University, its faculty and students, as the beneficiaries of Foundation activities; and formalize discussions held with our Foundation’s investment managers over the past year.”

Robert Luyster, a professor of philosophy and STAND’s advisor, says the student coalition and the Foundation “are to be congratulated for their collaborative efforts that place the University among the nation’s elite in the struggle to defend the human rights of the suffering people of Darfur.”

To further raise awareness of the situation in Darfur, UConn student activists on March 21 took part in “Die-In for Darfur,” lying down in the center of campus, holding signs calling for action.

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