UC Student Activists Make News With Sudan Divestment

UC Student Activists Make News With Sudan Divestment

UCLA students react to the Regents' unanimous vote for divestment, intended to help end a bloody humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson for UCLA Today.)

Students won unanimous vote by Regents to shed holdings in nine companies doing business with government accused of genocide.

Press coverage of a March 16, 2006, vote at UCLA by the University of California Board of Regents to drop the system's investments in nine international companies doing business in Sudan put student activists in the spotlight. Members of the Darfur Action Committee had been working for two years to bring about such an outcome, which they said would send a signal to the Sudanese government that genocide and atrocities in the country's western Darfur region would not be tolerated abroad. The students' efforts were supported by celebrities, human rights groups, UC faculty and staff, politicians, and, ultimately, each one of the Regents, who voted unanimously to adopt a proposal initially sought by Student Regent Adam Rosenthal (pdf details).

The next day, as reported by the UC Sudan Divestment Taskforce, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee ran stories on the front pages of their print editions. Later, the Los Angeles Times' editorial board lent its support and called for the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the nation's largest pension fund, to follow suit. State Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), a speaker at the March 16 Regents' meeting, is backing such a move.

Several private U.S. universities previously had divested from Sudan, but the UC was the first major public university system to do so.

Even while students were celebrating a victory, however, the Darfur crisis appeared to be spreading into neighboring Chad.

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2006