College may retain stake in two Sudanese telecom firms
Although the College's Board of Trustees voted last weekend to avoid investing in six oil companies that operate in Sudan, Dartmouth has not announced plans to divest from two telecommunications firms with interests in the country, which has been accused of staging a genocidal campaign in its Darfur region.
As of May 2005, Dartmouth invested in Siemens and Alcatel, both of which have business ventures in Sudan. It is unclear, however, whether Dartmouth is still invested in either company because the College's portfolio is always changing, College General Counsel Bob Donin said.
The trustees' investment recommendations were based on advice from the College's Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. Donin, a member of the committee, said it divided companies into three categories, based on their operations in Sudan.
The first included firms involved in oil drilling or extracting other natural resources in Sudan, the second included companies tied to infrastructure and utilities and the third comprised consumer goods companies.
"The committee concluded that the connection between company activity and human rights abuses was clearest with respect to the first category," Donin said. "Because oil drilling is a crucial source of revenue for the government of Sudan the committee felt [oil companies] contributed most to the campaign of genocide."
Telecommunication service providers Siemens and Alcatel fell into the second category, which the Advisory Committee judged to benefit the Sudanese civilians, Donin said.
Niral Shah '08, one of the co-founders of the Darfur Action Group, a campus organization that protests College investment in businesses tied to the genocide in Darfur, also said that the two companies should be treated differently than the oil companies operating in Sudan.
"Their complicity is likely indirect," Shah said.
Because the College does not currently hold stock in any of the six oil companies the Advisory Committee cited, Dartmouth is not technically divesting, said Ronald Green, former Advisory Committee head and faculty director of the Dartmouth College Ethics Institute.
"In the strictest sense it is not a divestment decision, it is a screening decision," Green said.
The six companies that the trustees urged the College's Investment Office to avoid were ABB Ltd., Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company Ltd., PetroChina Company Ltd., Sudanese White Nile Petroleum Company, Petroliam Nasional Bhd and Sinopec Corp.
"As a former chair of ACIR, I'm very happy with the decision," Green said.
Green also praised the Darfur Action Group, calling their efforts "extremely important" in securing the recent announcement from the trustees.
"Their energy, their research and the positive energy they put into this really helped guide us," Green said.