UT System should divest from companies that support genocide in Sudan

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Editor’s Note: Ali Breland, the author of the resolution discussed in this editorial, was an opinion columnist for The Daily Texan during the spring semester. He wrote this column supporting the UT System’s divestment from companies in Sudan.

Student Government introduced a resolution Tuesday calling for the UT System to divest from companies that support genocide. The University of Texas Investment Company, known as UTIMCO, manages $25 billion in endowments for both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, investing more than $12 million in companies that fund genocide in Sudan. Student Government is calling for the System “to create or agree upon a blacklist of companies that UTIMCO cannot invest in that is more thorough and comprehensive than the Texas Comptroller’s blacklist.”

In 2003, the genocide in Sudan began, and has killed nearly half a million people and displaced almost 3 million since then. The Sudanese government facilitates these murders, and our University System indirectly funds them. One company in particular that the System should prioritize divesting in is PetroChina, in which the System invests approximately $1 million. PetroChina, which numerous companies have divested from in recent years, owns 40 percent of South Sudan’s oil assets and finally admitted in January that it has done business with Sudan, a U.S.-sanctioned country. In 2005, Harvard University voted to divest from this company, and in 2006, the University of California System, which the University of Texas System constantly competes with, approved a policy to do the same, in addition to divesting from eight other companies that also inadvertently contribute to genocide. UTIMCO should follow these schools’ leads and also divest.

In 2004, the University of California System suggested divestment “when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide,” and in 2004, the U.S. declared this about Sudan. The UC System ended up agreeing upon a slightly different policy, but if the UT System decides not to create a thorough blacklist of companies it won’t invest in, it should at least divest from companies that work with foreign regimes the U.S. has declared are facilitating genocide.

By keeping its investments in these companies, the University of Texas System is knowingly supporting genocide. Allowing our University to indirectly take part in this is completely unacceptable, and we agree with Student Government in urging the System to divest from these companies.