Underscoring its longstanding commitment to ethical practices that develop character and enrich human and natural communities and its demonstration of Christian values, Georgetown College has approved a resolution to support a procurement policy that addresses the use of conflict minerals in the school’s most commonly purchased electronic items.
The procurement policy gives preference, when possible, to electronics companies that are not connected with mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo that promote sexualized violence, child abductions, and murder within those regions. It supports electronics companies and other industries taking the necessary steps to remove conflict minerals from their supply chains and, instead, source conflict-free minerals from the DRC for their products.
The policy announcement results from a Conflict-Free Campus Initiative among Georgetown College students, part of the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign and STAND – the student-led movement to end mass atrocities. Georgetown College’s CFCI was started by student Georges Nzabanita Iyamuremye, himself a Congolese citizen and activist, whose family has been directly impacted. Current Georgetown College student activists led by CFCI campus organizer Ms. Jacqui Johns, a senior Political Science major, continue to work at raising awareness of the ongoing conflict in eastern Congo.
“Although Georges has graduated, it is his passion and vigor that has continued to push us forward in securing the passage of this resolution,” said Ms. Johns. “We could not be more excited. The (college) administration was wonderful in genuinely listening to us, taking our concerns seriously, and making our requests a priority.”
While conflict materials are used in a variety of products – everything from jewelry to cars – the electronics industry is one of the largest purchasers of these minerals. The U.S. State Department defines conflict mineral as any natural resource that is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country for the purpose of financing the conflict in that region. This includes tantalum, tin, gold, or tungsten, which are commonly used in the manufacturing of electronic products.
Recognizing that there has been a sharp increase in activity amongst technology companies to accelerate reform efforts such as the production of the world’s first fully conflict-free product that contains clean Congolese minerals, Georgetown College has committed to taking into account whether electronics products contain conflict minerals in future purchasing decisions.
“The administration’s willingness to sign the CFCI resolution highlights the College’s commitment to issues of social justice,” commented Melissa Scheier, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Political Science and CFCI faculty advisor. “I am extremely proud of our students’ efforts to bring attention not only to the conflict in Congo but also to raise awareness that the products we buy here have an impact on the quality of life of others globally.”
The procurement resolution requires the College to consider the policies and practices of electronics companies with the goal of favoring companies that can verify a majority of the minerals used in their products do not come from illegal mines or mines associated with violent practices and smuggling by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Georgetown College joins hundreds of top U.S. and international universities and colleges in supporting this student-led movement to use its purchasing power to build peace rather than conflict.