At UCLA meeting, students argue that action could help bring end to atrocities.
"The regime has a clear history of response to economic pressure"
This article was first published in the Daily Bruin.
By Jennifer Mishory, Daily Bruin contributor
The University of California Board of Regents Investment Advisory Committee met Tuesday [Feb. 14, 2006] at UCLA to review the status of the UC portfolio and in part to provide an update on the status of the Sudan divestment proposal.
The meeting focused primarily on discussion of the UC-portfolio performance. Though the portfolio experienced positive returns, some regents expressed concern over the asset-allocation plan that resulted in lower returns than portfolios of comparable institutions, such as Harvard University and the University of Texas.
The meeting also addressed possible UC divestment. UC Vice President Joe Mullinix updated the committee on the activities of the UC Divestment Task Force, created last January to assess the effects such divestment would have on citizens of Darfur and on UC finances.
The task force has met twice and has forwarded letters to investment managers in order to get information on investments, and to potentially targeted companies, Mullinix said.
Pubic attendance at the meeting was low, with almost none of the vocal student support seen outside and inside the event in January at UC San Diego or in November when the regents last met at UCLA to discuss the UC's investments.
But a few students were present to voice their continuing support for divestment.
UC students have pressured the regents to consider targeted divestment from companies doing business in Sudan. The U.S. government has joined many others in calling the situation in Darfur, "genocide." An estimated 400,000 citizens of Darfur have been killed and many more displaced.
Support for divestment took up the entire public-comment period at the beginning of the meeting.
Members of the UC Divestment Task Force and Undergraduate Students Association Council President Jenny Wood responded to concerns Regent David Lee voiced today and at the January meeting regarding the effects of divestment on the citizens of Darfur.
Lee warned that taking money out of an already poor country could make life harder for ordinary citizens.
Agriculture may have the greatest direct affect on the livelihood of ordinary citizens, so the proposal excludes companies that are invested in agriculture, instead targeting oil and energy companies, said Adam Sterling, cochair of the UC Divestment Task Force.
Students emphasized the promise that divestment could hold in changing the actions of the Sudanese government.
"The regime has a clear history of response to economic pressure," said Michael Garner, a member of the task dorce.
But Lee reiterated his original concerns with divestment. Lee was born in China and said he lived under dictatorship in several countries.
"Being on the other side, I know what it is when U.S. cuts off aid," Lee said. "The people who suffer are not the dictators."
Lee's 12-year term as a regent ends March 1 and presided over his last meeting Tuesday. His final remarks as a member of the board warned members of the committee to keep their purpose of looking out for retirees and students of the UC in mind when venturing in social issues.