By Aubri Layson
Contributing Writer and CFCI Member
One of the newest organizations on Georgetown’s campus is the Conflict Free Campus Initiative (CFCI). Although new, CFCI has begun to make large strides to accomplish our goals. In short, our goal is to try and make a difference in the conflict in the Congo.
Since 1998, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been in a state of civil war. As of December 2013, more than 2.6 million people have been displaced, and over 5.4 million people have died, making Congo the deadliest conflict since World War II. At first glance, this seems to have nothing to do with us. However, a large part of the reason that the conflict persists is due to our consumption of technology which fuels the war.
There are four minerals which are found in nearly all consumer electronic devices: tin, tungsten, tantalum, (or “the Three T’s”) and gold. All of these minerals are found in abundance in Congo. These minerals are in high international demand, making them a lucrative source of income for armed groups.
Mines are controlled and taxed by malicious armed groups seeking to exploit the natural resource wealth, as well as the communities where the mines are found. The minerals are then smuggled across borders and sold to international companies to be put in technology. The armed groups which control the mines use this money to buy more weapons and further maintain their dominance over the oppressed Congolese. This is why they are called conflict minerals—they fund the conflict which has been going on in the DRC for over 25 years.
What we as an organization are trying to do is to make campus “conflict free.” Conflict free would entail developing a resolution in which Georgetown College promises to try to use electronics from companies that are making an effort to be “conflict free.” Conflict free technology means that the technology is not made with minerals that are mined from the rebel groups.
Recently the leaders of CFCI met with President Greene to discuss the recently developed resolution. President Greene gave us extremely positive feedback. He also gave us several new ideas that would allow for campus to move towards being conflict free. Although the resolution was not signed, we believe the meeting went well, and we are thankful that President Greene and Dean of Students Laura Wyly took the time to sit down with us and share their concerns.
Our future goals are to take the advice of President Greene and Dean Wyly in order to make a resolution that not only promotes our goals, but also is a resolution that the college can comfortably agree to carry out. We believe that we are heading in the right direction and are excited to see where the future takes CFCI.