SUDAN WATCH: HARVARD PROFS PLEDGE TO BACK SUDAN DIVESTMENT - And drop its shares in PetroChina

Monday, October 25, 2004

HARVARD PROFS PLEDGE TO BACK SUDAN DIVESTMENT - And drop its shares in PetroChina

Several Harvard faculty members said they would be more than willing to join an effort aimed at convincing Harvard to drop its shares in PetroChina, the oil stock linked to the Sudanese government.

Here are some excerpts from today's report at The Crimson authored by Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel:

In the spring of 1979, more than 100 faculty members signed a petition urging Harvard to sell its stakes in companies that conducted dealings with South Africa’s apartheid regime. Ultimately, Harvard divested itself from about a half-dozen companies.

In 1990, the University sold its last holdings in the tobacco industry after a committee of faculty, students and alumni recommended that the University divest itself from cigarette firms.

Richard Wilson, the Mallinckrodt research professor of physics, was an outspoken critic of the Khartoum regime during its conflict with rebels in the south of Sudan.

“The Israeli divestment community would be overwhelmingly enthusiastic about any sincere effort to ease the suffering in Sudan by supporting divestment,” Assistant Professor of Neurobiology John A. Assad wrote in an e-mail. If “students do make a sincere effort to push Harvard to divest from holdings in Sudan,” Assad wrote, “you will find no stronger ally.”

Professor of Psychology Patrick Cavanagh also urged students to initiate a petition, and said he would help bring “all the publicity we can generate” to any such effort.

Cavanagh and his family adopted two refugee children from the south of Sudan in July 2002. “Their experiences have taught us much about the horrors of that conflict,” Cavanagh wrote in an e-mail.

“Urging some organization to divest themselves…is a powerful tool that sends a powerful message, but I don’t think you use it for any little problem that comes along,” Moseley said in an interview Friday. But, he said, “I do think the situation in Darfur deserves this.”

—Harvard's Crimson Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at hemel@fas.harvard.edu.

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